International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Today, on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus heard from the Honourable Hugh Segal, members of Dignity for All and were joined by Welsh officials involved in the creation of a basic income for youth leaving the care of child welfare authorities in Wales.

All urged Parliamentarians to address the significant economic inequalities in Canada today. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equality in opportunity and access to resources, yet 1 in 7 Canadians live in poverty, and we see the worst effects of this inequality in Indigenous communities.

In addition to improving mental and physical health, lowering emergency and other health care costs, lowering crime rates and the costs of courts, police and correctional services and increase public safety, a guaranteed liveable income could mean the difference between investing in people and communities rather than institutional care, as well as the benefits of such an investment in terms of saving taxpayers’ money, creating stronger social, health and economic supports and building a fairer and more just society for all.

As we recognize the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us look to what leading international partners are doing to prevent and relieve poverty.

Wales is tackling poverty and supporting families by a targeted initiative to assist young people leaving care. They see this as a vital and necessary first step making the case for a broader initiative. Meanwhile, Finland’s basic income approach is credited with having improved mental health and created greater incentives to work, avoid crime and develop innovative entrepreneurships.

As we learn from these and many other international experiences, let us seize the opportunity to build on the successes of the Canada Child Benefit and the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors, to ensure the government’s Bill C-22 provides for an adequate disability benefit that cannot be clawed back by provincial or territorial authorities and implement Bills C-223/S-233.

We need to provide for all what we so commonly take for granted—a basic, liveable income. Everyone, not merely the most privileged, deserves the equality of opportunity that and a guaranteed liveable income as part of a robust social, health and economic support system could provide.

–from Senator Kim Pate