New plan to measure poverty, but no money for low-income Canadians

Posted on August 21, 2018

ACORN members welcome the federal government’s commitment to reducing poverty by half, detailed in “Opportunity for All”, the new poverty reduction strategy. The plan outlines some positive initiatives, such as the introduction of an official poverty line. The poverty line - previously the Market Basket Measure - will hopefully provide a mechanism for holding the government to account and ensuring transparency as the government works towards its poverty reduction goals.

Despite this, ACORN members are deeply disappointed by the lack of action put forward in the Poverty Reduction Strategy. The steps taken by the government in recent years do not go far enough. We support initiatives such as the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy and investment in child care, but with no new money or policies to benefit people living in poverty, the Strategy misses the mark.

Low-income Canadians need the government to tackle the issues that make poverty a reality for so many. Banks that charge $48 NSF fees and deny access to low-cost credit in emergencies need to be addressed so low-income people aren’t forced to rely on predatory lenders that cause spiralling debt in our communities. Telecoms companies should be prevented from gouging low-income customers and internet should be made affordable for all low-income people; the Connecting Families program is a step in the right direction but it needs to be expanded. The Employment Insurance system needs to be modernized and made fairer, more accessible and more representative of people in non-standard employment so that low-income workers are not forced into poverty by a system that fails to meet their needs.

We are interested in the new National Advisory Council, which has the potential to give a voice to low-income community members and other marginalized groups impacted by poverty. We look forward to finding out more about the selection process and call for all council members to have lived experience of poverty and for the council to be representative of the diverse needs of people experiencing poverty.

With “Opportunity for All”, we have a document that outlines targets and how to measure progress. Now we need the policy and investment to prove that the government is serious about improving the lives of low income families and individuals.