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Parliamentarians Unite to Speak Out Against Poverty

Campaign Urges Government to Take Action on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Ottawa October 17, 2012 – Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada is marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty today with a public event and the release of Poverty Trends Scorecard – Canada 2012, a report that highlights the need for continued federal investments to assist those struggling to make ends meet.

“Poverty need not exist in Canada,” says Leilani Farha, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty and co-lead of the Dignity for All campaign. “Canada is an extremely wealthy country; poverty, homelessness and hunger are unacceptable and unreasonable.  Experience shows that if governments are serious about addressing poverty, progress can be made.”

The campaign, in conjunction with the newly formed All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus (APC), is encouraging parliamentarians to show their support for eliminating poverty by wearing an “End Poverty” button and attending a panel discussion on Parliament Hill with persons who have a lived experience of poverty, APC representatives, and members of the public (“Ending Poverty Together: Real Stories, Real Solutions”, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Government Conference Centre, 2 Rideau St.)

According to Citizen for Public Justice’s Poverty Trends Scorecard, there has been a decline in poverty rates among children and seniors over the past 15 years thanks in part to federal investments in income security programs for these groups. At the same time, evidence suggests that poverty and disadvantage are becoming increasingly concentrated among unattached working-age individuals, young adults, Aboriginal people, recent immigrants, and persons with disabilities. “Although some progress has been made, we still have much more work to do to build on this momentum in a multi-partisan way,” says Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice, the other co-lead of the Dignity for All campaign.

“We all agree, regardless of party affiliation, that poverty can and should be eliminated,” says Conservative MP Michael Chong, APC co-chair.

“The federal government has an opportunity to take a leadership role against poverty in Canada,” says NDP MP Chris Charlton, APC co-chair. “While nearly all of the provinces have developed poverty reduction strategies, there is a need for federal coordination and support.”

In 1989 and 2009 unanimous motions were passed in the House of Commons that expressed a desire to take action against poverty. Recent parliamentary reports have provided concrete suggestions as to how that goal can be achieved.  “Both the House and Senate have declared a commitment to ending poverty; the next step is concrete action,” says Liberal Senator Art Eggleton, APC co-chair.

“In order to successfully fight poverty in Canada it is critical that we band together across party lines. The formation of the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus is a very important step in that direction,” says Conservative Senator Don Meredith, APC Treasurer.

Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada is a non-partisan coalition of over 575 provincial and national organizations, 9000 individuals, and 154 Members of Parliament and Senators from all parties, dedicated to realizing a poverty-free Canada.

For more information visit www.dignityforall.ca

For media inquiries, please contact:

Sarah Shepherd, Communications Coordinator, Citizens for Public Justice (bilingual), 613-413-6707

Megan Yarema, Director, Education and Outreach, Canada Without Poverty, 604-613-1434

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