By Ryan McGreal
Published April 06, 2011
The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction is calling on Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff to commit to a national poverty strategy.
With Harper and Ignatieff both scheduled to visit Hamilton this Thursday, April 7, the Poverty Roundtable issued a news release today challenging the leaders to "adopt a cross-departmental approach to tackling poverty and to work with communities" to implement a poverty-reduction strategy.
The news release notes that 3.5 million Canadians - over 10 percent - and 89,000 Hamiltonians live below the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) defined by Statistics Canada.
Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla, who supports the initiative, is presenting a motion to today's emergency and community services committee meeting for Council to request:
that the Federal Government adopt a cross-Ministry approach to tackling poverty in Canada and that a National Poverty Strategy be developed that includes investment in early learning and child care, affordable and accessible housing, employment and skills development opportunities and meaningful income support programs.
After three decades of federal support for social services starting in the 1960s, the Federal Government moved aggressively in the 1990s to get out of the social services business. The Government lumped social services funding with health funding in the Canadian Health and Social Transfer (CHST), eliminated capital funding for social housing and downloaded the management of social housing to the provinces. (In Ontario, the Provincial Government subsequently downloaded this responsibility to municipalities.)
In 2004, the Federal Government decoupled the CHST into the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and Canada Social Transfer (CST) with stable funding and annual increases already confirmed in legislation out to fiscal year 2013-14. The CST transfer is earmarked for post-secondary education, social assistance / social services, and early childhood development.