Advocate wants election campaign to address poverty

JournalPioneer.com – Elections/Local-news
Published on April 11, 2011.   Mike Carson

Strong social programs will go a long way to improving health among Canadians and they cannot be achieved by cutting taxes, says Mary Boyd of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice.

Boyd said it is imperative that candidates in the federal election deal with the issue of poverty and develop a strategic plan to deal with it.

“One of the big concerns we have is this country has the money to fix not only the debt that we all talk about but the social and environmental deficits as well as the fiscal deficit,” Boyd said. “We have a big concern that we don’t reduce taxes in order to fix the things that needed to be fix in the country. For example, a proposal to cut corporate taxes causes us great concern because Canada needs that revenue for its social programs. We really want strong social programs funded by the federal government. Tax cuts are not the way to go about that.

“The whole question of tax cuts is a big issue for us and we just hope the political parties are not promising tax cuts. That they are realizing that that’s the least effect way to create jobs, to help low income people who are in need and to take care of our universal health care system.”

Boyd said everyone needs to pay their fair share of taxes in order to cover the costs of social programs.

“They do affect health because poverty is part of the determining factors of health,” she said. “There are several determining factors and poverty is one. To have a social program that looks at providing adequate housing, that takes money. There’s a real need to improve social housing in this province and in this country. There’s way too much poverty in Canada and it’s very deep and it’s very hurtful and many people are working hard for a poverty eradication strategy in the difference provinces but you can’t eradicate poverty unless the federal government does its share and it has to commit money.”

Boyd said statistics show the people who are impoverished suffer much more ill health than those above the poverty line. She said poor people worry more, have less opportunity to obtain nutritious food and their mental health suffers as well.

“They don’t have adequate housing and that’s very hard on health and they have a lot of stress all of which takes it toll,” she said. “In order to have a healthy population you have to have a strategy to eradicate poverty. We believe every Canadian has the right to adequate health.”

Boyd said a study commission by her group revealed poverty on Prince Edward Island costs the province between $240 million and $320 million annually.

She said their needs to be a national strategic plan to wipe out poverty.

“We’re really asking the federal candidates to fight for that,” she said. “It means more money into child care. It means more money into pensions. It means a better unemployment insurance. You do not create jobs by lowering taxes. You create jobs by having a plan.”

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