Federal government not addressing Senate recommendations to reduce poverty

September 29, 2010

Ottawa… The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) is disappointed that the Government of Canada did not commit to a comprehensive strategy for universal child care or a national housing plan in its Sept. 27 response to the Senate report entitled In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness.  The report was unanimously approved by the Senate early in 2010.

“We are dismayed with the federal government’s failure to address any of the recommendations in the Senate report, beyond existing government programs,” says CTF President Mary-Lou Donnelly, noting that it was almost a year ago, on Nov. 24, 2009, that an all party House of Commons resolution was adopted to “…develop an immediate plan to eliminate poverty in Canada for all.”

The Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science & Technology studied social conditions in Canadian cities and made recommendations to the federal government that would address a wide range of questions and concerns.  Among them is the way parents of low-income families are able to provide for their children’s needs, including their readiness for and completion of school. 

Among the 74 recommendations in the report are those that address increases to the minimum wage, significant improvement to the Employment Insurance program, increases to the National Child Benefit, affordable housing initiatives, assistance for First Nations, immigrant and refugee children and their families, additional support for access to post-secondary education, and a national federal/provincial initiative on early childhood learning. The Committee’s first recommendation was to stress that programs dealing with poverty and homelessness should be designed to lift Canadians out of poverty rather than make living within poverty more manageable.

“As teachers, we see the impact of poverty on our students’ learning every day. Empirical evidence shows there is a direct relationship between poverty and how children fare in elementary and secondary schools,” adds Donnelly who points out that one out of nine Canadian children lives in poverty – a rate which has not changed significantly since 1989. 

“The Canadian Teachers’ Federation believes the federal government missed a tremendous opportunity to address poverty through the Senate recommendations and that is why we will continue to urge all parliamentarians to support a coordinated effort to reduce and eliminate child poverty in Canada by focusing on three critical areas: family income, housing, and educational opportunity.”

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) speaks for nearly 200,000 teachers in Canada as their national voice on education and related social issues. CTF is also a member of the international body of teachers, Education International. CTF is a member of Campaign 2000 and involved in the Canada Without Poverty campaign.

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Comments: Mary Lou Donnelly, CTF President
Information: John Staple, Deputy Secretary General
Media Contact: Francine Filion, Director of Communications, 613-688-4314 or 613-899-4247 (cell)