Government can help reduce poverty!

October 14, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Since, 2006, the Government of New- foundland & Labrador, especially the Poverty Reduction Strategy has been committed “to prevent, reduce and alleviate poverty (“Reducing Poverty: An Action Plan).”

On March 11, 2015, I had the opportunity to participate at the “Poverty Reduction Summit” here in St. John’s. After consulting, listening to the concerns and recommendations from various advocacy groups (Poverty-related, disability-related, Mental Health-related, Religious, Aboriginal and Community related groups); Unions, Business, the various Professions ie. Medical Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Clergy, and others and concerned individuals, our provincial government is focusing on 6 Priorities!

These include: 1.) Housing; 2.)Improved supports for people to work; 3.) Increased supports for vulnerable families with children; 4.)Increased supports for vulnerable youth; 5.) Improved access to, awareness and coordination of government services; and 6.) Improved access to neces- sities (transportation, food, adult learning & literacy, prescription medication and dental services). (Re: “Newfoundland and Labrador Poverty Reduction Strategy. Engagement Sum- mit, March 2015)

During most of this 9-10 year provincial poverty reduction process I have urged our Provincial Government to automatically provide all Full Disability Supports and Services (ie. Drug Coverage, Medical Supplies Coverage, Dental, Visioncare, etcetra to any residents whose sole income is the Canada Pension Plan Disability Pension. And, all CPP Disability Pension recipients should also receive a Supplementary Disability Allowance! We should base such a programon the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

While the province is trying to move forward, the federal government is working in reverse.

And, I don’t know how Newfoundland & Labrador can effectively reduce poverty by itself, without the help of our Federal Government? Our province has to work with Ottawa, and our municipalities, plus all social-economic stakeholders to make Poverty Reduction a Reality!

In the meantime, there are Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans who are falling through our province’s and country’s Social Safety Net!

Recently, Federal NDP Opposition leader, Thomas Mulcair responded to my Canadian and Newfoundland & Labrador Poverty-related concerns: “Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns about the need to do more to address affordability and poverty-related issues.

New Democrats believe that the federal government should act to help close the growing inequality gap for individuals and their families.

We’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of our long-time commitments to create a fair and equitable society – progressive policies that will put the needs and interests of everyday Cana- dians first.

We’re working hard, proposing practical solutions to take the pressure off family budgets and help make life more affordable. We’re renewing our push for reasonable solutions to help Canadians make ends meet and build a better life…

Canadians understand that no one who works full-time should have to struggle just to put food on their family’s table. A New Democratic government will lead by example by reinstating the federal minimum wage and progressively increasing it to $15 by the end of our first term in office.

Our plan takes concrete action to fight growing income inequality, while also giv- ing a boost to businesses all across the country.

But, that’s not all we’re working on. We’ve also heard from Canadians about the skyrocketing cost of childcare.
Quality child care is becoming increasingly unaffordable—up to 2000 dollars a month for a spot.

We know that top-quality child care can help give kids the head start they deserve. Now it’s time to make it affordable for every parent. That is why we’ve launched a child care campaign.

The NDP wants affordable housing within reach for all Canadians and will sustain investment in Canada’s affordable housing agreements.

An NDP government will also provide incentives for the construction of 10,000 affordable and market rental housing units.

In addition, we will work with cities and municipalities and invest in public transit for their residents.

Canada’s seniors are facing diminished pensions. That’s why New Democrats want to do more to strengthen public pensions.
We’d expand the Canada and Québec Pension Plans: Strengthen and Expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). And because we believe no senior should grow old in poverty, we’ve also committed to boosting the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors.

Finally, an NDP government will reverse Stephen Harper’s mean spirited plan to delay Canadian’s retirement and will restore the age of eligibility for Old Age Security to 65 from 67.

What’s more, we’re committed to reversing the Conservatives’ bad decision-making that has led to a reduction of veterans’ services and benefits and cuts to the employment insurance program that make it harder for workers to collect E.I. benefits.

… We have a vision of prosperity and opportunity for all Canadians. We’ll keep at it—we’ll continue meeting with Canadians right across the country to see how we can help to ease their financial burden.

… Please know that we welcome your interest to have the right policies in place for those Canadians who need help the most.”

Canadians need our Federal Government to exercise it’s national leadership role in combating Poverty by calling for a National Poverty Reduction Strategy; a National Housing Strategy; a new National Health Accord and the reintroduction of the National Pharmaceutical Strategy! And the Provinces, Territories and the federal government should consider a not a new ideal, the old Guaranteed Annual Income scheme.

WE may never eliminate poverty but Ottawa and the Province should try at least do something to give a hand up to those people who are trying to escape the poverty trap. No one should be left behind!

Edward Sawdon
via email


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