Harper rejects unanimous Senate poverty report | National Union of Public and General Employees

Harper rejects unanimous Senate poverty report

Government accepts none of the 74 recommendations contained in a Senate report approved unanimously in April.

Ottawa (30 Sept. 2010) - The Harper government has rejected all 74 recommendations in a sweeping Senate report to combat homelessness and poverty.

The official Conservative response this week to the 300-page report was a 20-page list of existing programs and a promise to take the committee’s recommendations "under advisement" in the future.

Liberal Senator Art Eggleton, whose subcommittee on cities authored the report, expressed disappointment at the government's dismissive reaction.

“I think we made it quite clear it’s not just how much you spend but how efficiently and effectively you spend it,” Eggleton told the Toronto Star. “What we really needed was an action plan — an indication that this is a high priority for the government.”

Anti-poverty groups were also disillusioned.

“With the majority of provinces and territories pursuing poverty reduction, the federal government needs to do its part,” said Laurel Rothman, of Campaign 2000, a national coalition that has been lobbying Ottawa to live up to a 1998 all-party Commons resolution to end child poverty by 2000.

“Canadians want our leaders to demonstrate commitment to work together to eradicate poverty during the next decade,” she said.

The Senate report, In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness, says 3.4 million Canadians are trapped in poverty by a system of social programs that are “substantially broken.”

Among the report’s 74 recommendations is a call for Ottawa to set a goal of “poverty eradication” and to work with the provinces to create a national child-care system, a federal housing strategy and to adopt measures ensuring income support for people in poverty.

The report also recommends developing a national income support program for the disabled, increasing the National Child Benefit to $5,000 by 2012 and boosting the Working Income Tax Benefit so those in low-wage jobs can escape poverty. The Senate adopted the report unanimously on April 29.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE