Poverty and homelessness are issues that have social and financial implications for Canada, particularly for Canadian cities. The social cost of having people living in poverty and homelessness is: increased sickness and mortality; increased crime; deterioration of neighbourhoods.
Cities do not have the resources to deal with poverty and homelessness. There is growing evidence that the cost of dealing with poverty on the street is greater than what it would cost to provide shelter and adequate services.
What would your party do to reduce homelessness and alleviate the effects of poverty? Do you believe a more effective national strategy on poverty and homelessness is needed?
Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a National Housing Strategy. The Green Party is committed to developing a strategy that includes housing plans for seniors, First Nations, affordable and social housing.
Greens would change the rules for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation so that it is once again responsible for affordable, social and co-op housing, and make sure that social housing and housing co-ops were given long-term funding.
We would bring back the tax credits that used to be given for the construction of rental housing, provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations, and give rent supplements or shelter assistance to low-income households. Providing affordable housing is just part of solving the problem of poverty and homelessness, however. The Green Party believes that a Guaranteed Liveable Income (GLI) is the solution.
The goal of the GLI is to make sure that no Canadian falls below a certain level of income, while providing incentives for those who receive it to keep working and earn more.
The GLI would replace the jumble of federal and provincial programs such as welfare, disability, OAS and GIS for seniors, and child tax benefits with a single, universal, unconditional cash benefit delivered through the tax system.
Bringing in the GLI would require negotiation with all three levels of government, but if we are to give the estimated 4.9 million Canadians now living in poverty a better future, it must be done.
For more information, go to www.greenparty.ca.
Liberals believe the federal government should invest in the development of more affordable housing units to help Canadian families ease their cost of living. Every Canadian has the right to safe and affordable housing. Liberals will take a leadership role while working with first nations, provinces and municipalities to develop a more effective strategy on poverty.
The best investments we can make are those that generate economic growth and provide immediate and long-term social gain. A Liberal
government will provide a new, dedicated funding envelope for social infrastructure. We will prioritize investment in affordable housing and seniors facilities.
Our plan will renew federal leadership in affordable housing, help build more housing units, refurbish existing ones, renew existing cooperative agreements, and provide operational funding support for municipalities.
We will also fund the creation of thousands of new childcare spaces, enhance their quality, and ensure that affordable childcare spaces are available to more families who need them. We will also boost investment in social infrastructure by nearly $6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over ten years.
The Liberals would also replace the current Universal Child Care Benefit, which is taxable and received by all families, regardless of income, with a new income-tested, tax-free monthly Canada Child Benefit that would boost payments to all families with children and annual income below $150,000.00. A non-taxable, income tested National Child Benefit Supplement would also be made available to low-income families lifting 315,000 children out of poverty.
Last fall UNICEF reported that the child poverty rate in Canada decreased during the recession, pulling roughly 180,000 children out of poverty. UNICEF credited this decrease to the Conservative Government’s action to put money back in the pockets of Canadian families.
The number of Canadians living below the Low Income Cut-off is now at its lowest level ever. Since 2006, there are 225,000 fewer children living in poverty in Canada.
Every family with children in Canada stands to benefit from the increase and expansion of the Universal Childcare Benefit to nearly $2,000 per year for every child under 6, and $720 per year for every child between 6 and 17, and the Family Tax Cut. The vast majority flows to low and middle income families.
Even one child living in poverty is too many, and we need to providemore hope for our young people. What we must do is provide opportunities for everyone to get ahead and stand on their feet financially. To do so, education is critically important.
I plan on working towards something called Social Impact Bonds that offer tax credits to contributors for investing in “human capital” through education. These have been implemented favourably in Great Britain and the United States. Social Impact Bond funds would target raising the reading levels of children by three grades. This increase will significantly enhance their future employment prospects, getting them prepared to fill skilled job positions in Canada.
Sheila Malcolmson NDP
Poverty and homelessness continue to rise in Canada. Canadians are facing stagnant wages and growing income inequality.
Close to 3 million Canadians are at risk of going hungry. 840,000 Canadians visit food banks every month. Poverty is on the rise among seniors in Canada, especially for women. Here in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District, nearly 20 percent of students are living in poverty.
1.6 million Canadian families can’t access a decent affordable home. Rental units are simply not available, and Canada’s vital social housing sector is at risk due to the elimination of federal funding.
Tom Mulcair and the NDP have a plan to make housing more affordable:
• Pass the Affordable Housing Act to recognize housing as a right.
• Restore long-term, stable investment in social housing.
• Secure every senior’s right to safe, decent and affordable housing.
• Provide incentives to build 10,000 affordable and market rental units.
The NDP is the only party to have proposed legislation to create a federal poverty reduction strategy. Our commitment includes:
• Increase benefits such as the National Child Benefit Supplement and the Working Income Tax Benefit.
• Reform the Employment Insurance program so workers don’t have to turn to social assistance when they are unemployed.
• Create a national affordable childcare program.
• Support small business owners, who create 80% of private sector jobs in our country.
• Restore the age of retirement to 65, boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement and expand the Canada and Quebec pension plans.