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UPDATE: Council endorses C-545, an Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada

Today the Council of Canadians endorsed C-545, the Poverty Elimination Bill.

As noted in a Toronto Star editorial in mid-June, “In an attempt to raise the profile of poverty in Ottawa, a backbench New Democrat MP introduced a private member’s bill this week that would ‘impose on the federal government the obligation to eliminate poverty and promote social inclusion by establishing and implementing a strategy for poverty elimination in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and aboriginal governments and with civil society organizations.’ Tony Martin’s bill would require the government to set out targets to reduce poverty in the short term (one to three years), medium term (four to seven years), and long term (eight years or more) and to appoint an independent ‘poverty elimination commissioner’ to hold it accountable.”

In more detail, the C-545 includes:
– core priorities of income security, housing and social inclusion;
– a strong human rights framework;
– picking a poverty measurement, as having no official definition has impeded action;
– gender-based analysis, different urban and rural responses and dealing with specific factors that put some at greater risk, like aboriginal status, child rearing and single parenthood, low wage, immigration or refugee status, low education, and prolonged illness and disability;
– leadership by the entire government with health and income security ministers taking the lead;
– an independent Poverty Elimination Commissioner to monitor and hold the government accountable, and a stronger, renewed National Council of Welfare to be called the National Council on Poverty and Social Inclusion.

The bill has the support of the NDP, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, but not the governing Harper Conservatives.

To date, 362 organizations have endorsed the bill, as well as 5627 individuals.

You can also sign the petition supporting C-545 by going to http://dignityforall.ca/en/sign-dignity-all.

To read more on Bill C-545 from Tony Martin’s webpage, http://www.tonymartin.ca/confronting-poverty-home-page#from_home_page_editorial. The Toronto Star editorial endorsing the bill is at http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/825234–put-poverty-on-agenda.