DfA Urges Provincial Action on National Poverty Strategy
This summer, the premiers from all 13 Canadian provinces and territories (The Council of the Federation) met in Halifax to discuss important issues related to Canada’s economic future. The Dignity for All (DfA) campaign took the meetings as an opportunity to draw attention to the fact that we must balance economic growth with the needs of people facing hardships and highlighted the need for a national poverty elimination strategy.
As we reported in July, a letter was sent the Council’s Chair, NS Premier Darrell Dexter, urging him and all premiers to consider the impact of the federal government’s recently announced reforms to Employment Insurance (EI) and Old Age Security (OAS) on low-income Canadians and provincial interests. We made the case for a national, multilateral poverty strategy affirming our belief that government can make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Their response (also see here) was both positive and promising. The premiers assured us that these issues were indeed on the agenda in Halifax. While it’s impossible to say how much of a role our efforts played in this, it’s encouraging to know that Canada’s premiers are acknowledging the need for inter-government collaboration and coordination to ensure the well-being of Canadians.
While several provinces and territories have already begun implementing poverty elimination plans with varying degrees of success, it has become clear that Canada needs a national plan. The federal government’s involvement in a poverty elimination plan is key given its taxation and redistributive capacity and its ability to influence how federal and provincial income security programs interact with one another. A national strategy would ensure that all Canadians, regardless of where they live, would have equitable access to programs and policies designed to keep people from living in poverty.
We are encouraged by the premiers’ commitment to our cause but realize much work needs to be done. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as Dignity for All continues to call for a multilateral, federal plan to eliminate poverty.