Eggleton speaks out on poverty Report: The Liberal senator is urging action

LFPress.com –
Last Updated: February 22, 2011.   By Joe Belanger, The London Free Press

It’s up to the Canadian public and the business community to get the issues of poverty and homelessness on the national radar if change is going to come, says the senator who helped author a major report.

Sen. Art Eggleton told The Free Press Monday it’s “disgusting” that more than one million Canadian children live in poverty and it’s time to fix the system that keeps them poor.

Eggleton will be in London Tuesday to present his report, In From The Margins: A Call to Action to End Poverty, at the Wolf Performance Hall of the Central Library from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m..

“What I’m trying to do is put the federal government under pressure to adopt an anti-poverty plan and housing strategy,” said Eggleton in an interview.

“I’m trying to arouse public interest and get the provincial governments to get these issues on the federal/provincial agenda. When it comes to election time, poverty and homelessness aren’t on the radar. We need to increase the public’s understanding of these issues.”

The report, released by the standing senate committee on social affairs, science and technology, says more than three million Canadians are trapped in poverty because social programs aimed at helping are “substantially broken.”

The report offers 74 recommendations, which include raising income supports for people on welfare and the working poor; a national housing strategy; and a national child-care system.

Anti-poverty groups across the country have praised the report and its contents.

Eggleton said the business community in several municipalities across the country has embraced the need for change, recognizing that “poverty costs a lot,” but the programs in place are ineffective.

“It’s costing taxpayers a lot of money and we don’t get the results,” he said.

“It’s disgusting that in this land of riches there are three- to four-million people, including more than one million children, who are living in poverty.”

Eggleton said it’s not surprising that a national declaration made in 1989 to eliminate poverty by the year 2000 failed.

“That’s because they didn’t have a plan,” said Eggleton. “This report offers a plan.”

To date, said Eggleton, the Harper government has not responded to the recommendations, saying only they will be considered “as we go along.”

“What we need is political will and that will only happen if the people agree and put pressure on their elected representatives,” he said.

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