Ottawa must lead poverty fight: MP

SaultStar.com – News
Posted June 5, 2010.   By Elaine Della-Mattia, The Sault Star

Tony Martin wants the federal government to play a leading role in assisting provinces help the poor.

The Sault Ste. Marie MP will table a report, and a bill, in the House of Commons to make that happen.

Martin and the Algoma Community Legal Clinic hosted a poverty forum Friday to give individuals, families and community groups a chance to share stories about living in poverty.

The information will be sent to the Interfaith Social Assistance Review Coalition for their 2010 Audit on Poverty.

“The group is doing a review of social assistance programs to see if they’re working or not and how best to fix them,” Martin said.

He said stories he heard indicate current programs are not working, people still live in poverty and the numbers of working poor in the community are growing.

Martin began a review of poverty in Canada two years ago. He wants his findings to determine what role the federal government should play.

Seven provinces have developed their own strategies, but say they need the federal government to make their plans work.

Martin said he will present a bill in the House in the coming weeks. It will empower the government to take a leadership role to help reduce poverty in Canada.

The federal government’s role has diminished since the mid-1990s when it eliminated the Canada Assistance Plan, Martin said.

“It has been reduced to only transferring dollars to the province over the years and those amounts have declined,” he said.

Martin is asking local residents and organizations who work with the poor to send a message to the government that it must get involved and stay active.

“Even though the government is saying the recession is over, these people are telling me that it’s not over for them,” he said.

Those employed with stimulus funding related-employment are those who had recently lost jobs. Those already in poverty have not had a chance at those positions, Martin added.

Others that have lost good paying jobs have accepted minimum wage employment to pay the bills. The result, he said, is more working poor.

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