The CCSD is a national partner of Campaign 2000 and CCSD member Sid Frankel sits on the C2000 National Steering Committee. On May 10, 2007 he delivered a brief to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Recommendation #7 below deals with the Canada Social Transfer. The entire presentation is available here for download. (PDF)
Campaign 2000 supports the recommendation of the National Council of Welfare in its paper, Solving Poverty: Four Cornerstones of a Workable National Strategy for Canada, that a poverty reduction strategy with specific timelines and targets be established. With regard to child and family poverty reduction, the strategy must establish targets to fulfill three objectives:
- To reduce the rate of child poverty
- To decrease the depth of child poverty
- To enhance developmental outcomes for children living in poverty
With regard to urban poverty, this strategy must contain both aspatial generic policy actions targeted at individuals in their family context and geographically-based interventions targeted at neighbourhoods with concentrations of poor households Seguin and Divay, 2002).
The generic policy actions should include the following:
1. Ensure Effective Child Income Benefits: Provide income supports to recognize the cost of raising a child.
Currently, the CCTB is scheduled to reach its maximum of $3,243 in July, 2007, and there is no commitment to further increases. Campaign 2000, along with other social policy groups, recommends that the child benefit be raised to $5,100 (2007 dollars) per child which would further the progress on poverty reduction, especially in reducing the depth of child poverty for lower income families. There need to be assurances that there will be no clawbacks at the provincial level and that all low and modest income families retain the full payment.
2. Build a Universally Accessible System of Quality Early Learning and Child Care which supports optimal early development of children and enables parents to work or receive training.
The federal government should create a system of Early Learning Education and Care programs across Canada for every child 0-12 (outside school hours) whose parent so chooses. Targets and timetables must be established and priorities, such as ages of children, level of coverage, must be identified. These programs must be accessible to children of every level of ability and all backgrounds; designed to meet the needs of working parents; affordable for every family who wishes to participate; and of high educational quality to give every child an opportunity to learn and develop to the best of his/her ability.
This vision should be presented to provinces/territories as a priority for the expenditure of federal funds. Based on discussion with these governments, the federal government should come to new bilateral or multilateral agreements that represent the interests of Canadians. These would direct funding to building a national system of early childhood education and child care in ways that are mutually agreeable to all governments and to Canadians. At least $1.2 billion additional annual expenditures must be allocated.
3. Encourage good jobs at living wages: Raise living standards for working poor families. Ensure that a full time full year worker at minimum wage can rise above the poverty line.
Establish a federal minimum wage at $10/hour ($2006) with inflation indexation. This (in combination with a CCTB at $5,100/child) would bring a full time full year single parent approximately up to the poverty line.
Strengthen the Canada Labour Code to cover precarious workers, as recommended by the Federal Labour Standards Review commission in their October 2006 report. Restore eligibility for Employment Insurance to restore the significant decline in coverage of the unemployed.
Both of these would provide leadership to provincial and territorial governments.
4. Expand Affordable Housing: end adult and family homelessness, and enable parents to raise their children in healthy community environments.
Canada remains one of the few countries in the world without a comprehensive affordable housing strategy and permanent funding. Low income families need a strategy with predictable long term funding of $2 billion annually. This could assist all levels of government, the community and private sector to provide affordable and social housing.
5. Support Affordable and Accessible Post Secondary Education and Training
The lack of financial assistance for training programs and lack of access to subsidized training makes it difficult for welfare recipients to get off social assistance and out of the cycle of poverty. Low income parents cannot afford to take on loans in order to upgrade their skills. We recommend that the federal government establish a specific transfer for post-secondary education (distinct from the Canada Social Transfer) and that access be improved by increasing the student financial aid package and allocating a higher proportion of aid to needs based grants. As well, tuition fees must be frozen and lowered in post-secondary institutions across Canada. The 2007 budget made a good start toward establishing a post-secondary education transfer by segmenting the Canada Social Transfer.
6. Restore Capacity of Employment Insurance
Restore eligibility for Employment Insurance by introducing a uniform 360 hour qualifying requirement and extending benefits to one year. This will help to protect more children of low and moderate income parents from downturns in the business cycle and other temporary employment interruptions.
7. Enhance Clarity, Accountability and Capacity of the Canada Social Transfer
The Canada Social Transfer is the central mechanism that the federal government uses to support provincial and territorial governments to deliver social assistance and social services. Accountability should be improved by articulating the goals of the transfer (including poverty reduction), specifying the characteristics of eligible provincial and territorial programs, and establishing standards as to benefit adequacy and program quality. Funding should be restored to 1994 -1995 levels.
Geographically-based elements of the urban poverty reduction strategy must be based on the peculiar needs and assets of particular neighbourhoods. They should focus on the long-term development of local economies and labour markets as well as the development of local capacities to support child development and the functioning of parents. Many will include a range of elements of community economic development and social development. Useful examples as to how governments can catalyze and support these often multi-sectoral efforts include the British government’s New Deal for Communities launched in 1998, and aimed at England’s most distressed communities. In 2001 it was followed up with the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy to help narrow the socio-economic gap between the most deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of England. In the United States, the government has invested billions of dollars through a range of initiatives, including the Community Empowerment Fund, Empowerment Zones, the Enterprise Community Initiative and Community Development Block Grants. Research has demonstrated that the U.S. efforts have contributed to reductions in concentrations of urban poverty.