My first speech during this session of Parliament was on the budget implementation bill and how it did not address poverty reduction.
Here is an edited version of that speech:
I want to spend my time today focusing on what is not in Bill C-3, the Budget Implementation Act.
There are no significant measures in the budget to address poverty in this country, whether it is families living in poverty, whether it is children living in poverty or whether it is seniors living in poverty.
People would argue that there is an increase in the GIS, but that increase does not go nearly as far as what New Democrats have called for – a doubling of the GIS for seniors to reduce the poverty they face.
Poverty is the condition of a human being who does not have the resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain economic self-reliance.
The federal government, through constitutional and legislative amendments has direct involvement in the reduction of poverty and plays a central role in programs providing social protection and income security.
634,000 children in Canada are living in poverty. They do not live in isolation. They live with mothers, or fathers, or brothers, or sisters.
Once again, this budget implementation act and the budget that was introduced by the government was an opportunity to take some steps, some measurable steps, toward eliminating child and family poverty in this country and the government has failed to do that.
In a report, called “Bearing the Brunt: How the 2008-2009 Recession Created Poverty for Canadian Families” by Citizens for Public Justice it says that after the last recession, it took 14 years for the poverty rate to return to its pre-recession level.
We are not only dealing with the current poverty in this country, but we are looking toward many years of this playing out.
The report goes on to state: “Job losses during the recession disproportionately affected those most economically vulnerable, as one in four workers making $10 an hour or less lost their job.
Despite a rise in EI coverage, almost half of the unemployed did not receive benefits.
As many as 500,000 Canadians have exhausted their EI benefits without finding new work. “
Of course, we hear the job creation numbers touted in this House. What people fail to talk about is many of those jobs created were part-time, seasonal contract jobs.
Although we will be supporting this Bill to go to second reading, it is a sad comment that we did not take this opportunity to address the poverty issues and develop a national poverty reduction strategy in this country.