NDP pushes anti-poverty plan

cnews.canoe.ca – CNews/Politics
June 16, 2010.   By Laura Payton, Parliamentary Bureau

OTTAWA – The NDP is proposing a new law to force the government to come up with a plan to eliminate poverty.

NDP MP Tony Martin said the bill, to be introduced Wednesday in the House of Commons, is the culmination of two years of work for him, Liberal MP Mike Savage and Bloc MP Yves Lessard.

The bill would establish a poverty elimination commissioner to hold the government accountable, Martin said.

“There will be benchmarks, there will be significant accountability measures in there, reporting back to Parliament and to the people of Canada in it,” he said.

Poverty costs the Canadian economy $90 billion a year, which makes it a prosperity issue, said Rob Rainer, executive director of Canada Without Poverty.

Chandra Pasma, a policy analyst with Citizens for Public Justice, pointed to problems with employment insurance as an argument for better co-ordination between all levels of government. She says the recent recession showed holes in the EI system where some provinces had to cover the increase in caseload.

“If the federal programs work, that also takes the burden off provinces to do more with less capacity,” Pasma said.

A spokesman for Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley cautioned the NDP hasn’t released an estimated cost for the proposed law and warned it could significantly increase taxes.

“Our Conservative government is investing in Canadians because we believe that the best way to get people out of poverty is to grow the economy which will increase job creation,” Ryan Sparrow wrote in an e-mail to QMI Agency.

But Calgary Ald. Joe Ceci says the federal government isn’t living up to its responsibilities.

“If there were a law that said they would guarantee no Canadian would fall below (the low-income cut-off), that would be far beyond what we have currently that’s a patchwork quilt of provincial federal agreements,” he said.

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