Launch: Poverty Reduction Strategy
the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development,
Launch: Poverty Reduction Strategy
Vancouver, British Columbia
August 21, 2018
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Hello. I’m honoured to speak to you today on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh (TI-SLAY WAH-TOOTH).
Before I begin, I want to thank all of you for joining us for today’s historic announcement.
For today truly is historic. First, today represents the culmination of several years of work that our government has undertaken since being elected in 2015.
Second, today also marks the beginning of a new era in Canada—one in which the Canadian Government acts as a leader and a full partner in the fight against poverty.
This is a fight our government is taking very seriously, and it’s a fight we started the very day we took office. We understood then—just as we understand now—the urgent and important nature of the fight for a more just society.
That’s why one of the very first things we did after being elected in 2015 was to introduce the Canada Child Benefit—the CCB—which is the most important policy innovation in a generation in our country.
That is why we stopped sending cheques to millionaires, and instead started sending more money—tax-free—to nine out of ten Canadian families.
While nearly every family in Canada has been helped by the CCB, the numbers show that families who need it the most have been helped the most: 65 percent of families receiving the maximum CCB benefits are led by single parents.
Of those, 90 percent are led by single mothers. It is estimated that the CCB is lifting half a million Canadians out of poverty, including 300,000 children.
Fighting poverty is why we immediately reversed the previous government’s disastrous changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Old Age Security, restoring the age of eligibility from 67 to 65, and preventing 100,000 seniors from plunging into severe poverty every year.
That is why we’ve made the GIS and OAS more generous, so that seniors today can receive nearly $2,000 more than when we took office.
We also introduced automatic enrolment for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, providing peace of mind and more stable income for more than 17,000 additional seniors every month.
That’s why last November we launched Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy, a ten-year, $40‑billion plan to give more Canadians a place to call home.
That’s why, through these investments, we are not only creating 100,000 new housing units and renovating more than 300,000 others, we are also responding to the urgent housing needs of more than half a million Canadians by making sure they have a safe and affordable home.
Fighting poverty is why, through the National Housing Strategy, we’re also creating the new Canada Housing Benefit, which will provide affordability support to at least 300,000 households across the country.
That is why we are establishing bodies like a Federal Housing Advocate and a National Housing Council, to ensure that vulnerable Canadians are represented and involved in the decision-making process.
As the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, it has been my honour and privilege to lead these important anti-poverty initiatives. I have had the opportunity to hear from Canadians impacted by poverty from coast to coast to coast. I’ve been proud to listen to their stories and hear that our actions can truly improve people’s lives.
But we know that our work isn’t anywhere close to being done. We know that far too many Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet. We know that too many Canadians still have to make impossible choices: keep a roof over their heads or food in their bellies; buy clothing for their children or save for their future.
We know this, again, because we’ve heard it over the past eighteen months as we’ve engaged with Canadians on developing Canada’s first-ever national poverty reduction strategy.
We’ve heard these heartbreaking stories as we’ve consulted with experts and academics, with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners, and, most importantly, with people with lived experiences of poverty and people working on the frontlines of poverty alleviation.
We know the time for action is now. And that’s why, today, I’m proud to launch Opportunity for All, Canada’s first-ever national poverty reduction strategy.
Opportunity for All is our plan for a concerted, coordinated fight against poverty on multiple fronts.
It is our strategy for making sure that, wherever you live or wherever you come from, you have a real and fair chance at success.
It is our vision for Canada as a world leader in the eradication of poverty: a vision for a Canada without poverty.
Opportunity for All brings together the many strands of poverty reduction policies and programs our government has introduced and implemented since taking office.
It is the Canada Child Benefit. It is more generous benefits for seniors. It is the first-ever National Housing Strategy. It is the Canada Workers Benefit, which will put more money in the pockets of lower-income, working Canadians and help the workers stay in the workforce. It is a historic framework for early learning and child care that is giving every province more money to make sure every child has a chance to reach their full potential. It is the Canada Pension Plan being enhanced for the first time in a generation.
It is Reaching Home, our redesigned and more impactful homelessness partnering strategy that will reduce chronic homelessness across the country by at least 50 percent over the next ten years.
Our investments are also targeted at vulnerable groups that need more support, including women. As Prime Minister Trudeau has said, “We know poverty is sexist.”
That is why many recent investments outlined in Opportunity for All are particularly beneficial to women, such as the introduction and indexation of the Canada Child Benefit, which is particularly supportive of lower-income single mothers, and the increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement payments for lower-income older women.
Of course, to eradicate poverty, we need to both understand it and measure it. That’s why I’m proud to announce that, for the first time ever, Canada will have an Official Poverty Line.
Canada’s Official Poverty Line will reflect the daily pressures of life in this country, in terms of what it means to have the “resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain a basic level of living standards and to facilitate integration and participation in society.”
Crucially, we’re going to enshrine Canada’s Official Poverty Line into law. The fight against poverty needs to be guided by evidence, not partisan ideology, and that means having common language and data.
Equipped with an Official Poverty Line, we are setting targets and will be measuring our progress against them. We will publish data annually to show where we are as a country, and to give governments, stakeholders, academics and all Canadians greater insight into what is working, and what needs to be changed, in order to meet our targets.
And we will have firm targets. By 2020, we aim to reduce poverty by 20 percent, and by 2030 we will reduce poverty by 50 percent, relative to the level of when we took office in 2015.
These reductions represent 2.1 million Canadians being lifted out of poverty, leading to the lowest level of poverty in Canada’s history.
Reducing poverty by 50 percent by 2030 also achieves the first Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations, thus setting Canada as a world leader in reducing poverty.
To further measure our progress, we will also establish a National Advisory Council on Poverty to advise the Government on poverty reduction.
Council members will reflect Canada’s diversity. They will produce an annual report on the Government’s progress toward meeting targets.
Like the Official Poverty Line, the National Advisory Council on Poverty will be enshrined into law, to guarantee a permanent commitment to poverty reduction and ensure that achieving a more just society remains a priority.
We recognize, of course, that none of this can be done alone. For Canada’s first-ever national Poverty Reduction Strategy to succeed, everyone will need to play a role, from provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, to our Indigenous partners, to businesses, to local communities, to—most importantly—people living in poverty and those working on the frontlines of fighting against it.
Opportunity for All indeed represents a whole-of-society approach to tackling poverty.
Together, we can make Canada a country where everyone has a real and fair chance to achieve their full potential.
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
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