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Inequities forum, updates, and a call to action!

Greetings endorsers,

You’ve asked what else you can do to push for a poverty reduction plan for BC. In the midst of this changing political climate now is the time to keep the pressure on. This province needs real leadership to reduce poverty in BC. Here’s a couple ideas and a couple updates.

1. Province-wide Income Inequity Forum, December 14th
We’ve added five more sites to our video conference forum with Dr. Richard Wilkinson next Tuesday, December 14th!

Income Inequity and the Community Response: Creating a Healthy and Productive Society
A video conference forum with Dr. Richard Wilkinson
9am-noon, December 14th
For details visit <http://bcpovertyreduction.ca//whats-new/>

To register in Vancouver, Prince George, Victoria, Surrey, Abbotsford, Nelson, and Duncan visit <http://www.phabc.org/inequity-forum>

To register in Smithers, Terrace, Prince Rupert or Fort St. John contact Nikki at info@bcpovertyreduction.ca.

Wilkinson has sold out a Monday night engagement in Vancouver already. Don’t wait to register!
2. Send a letter to Gilles Duceppe
(Canada Without Poverty) The introduction of Bill C-304 (An Act to Ensure Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing) introduced by NDP MP Libby Davies is a welcome step toward a national housing strategy that would provide a lot of support to provincial efforts. This bill, already endorsed by the Liberals and NDP, requires te continued support of the Bloc Québécois to keep it alive. Read more from Canada Without Poverty.

Just send a message to Gilles Duceppe! Copy the text below. Add your name. Press send.

To: Gilles Duceppe <duceppe.g@parl.gc.ca>
Subject: loi C-304 (Bill C-304)

Gilles Duceppe
Chef du Bloc Québécois
Chambre des Communes
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Monsieur :

Je tiens à féliciter le Bloc Québécois de son ouverture et du soutien qu’il continue d’apporter au projet de loi C-304, Loi pour garantir aux Canadiens l’accès à un logement adéquat, accessible et abordable. Votre parti garantira ainsi que le Canada respectera ses obligations relatives aux droits de l’homme en matière de logement, conformément au Pacte international des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels.

Le Canada a besoin d’une stratégie du logement pour soutenir les villes, les provinces et les territoires dans ce domaine.  Comme vous le savez, leurs capacités financières à gérer les problèmes de logement et d’itinérance sont mises à rude épreuve.  Dans son récent rapport sur le logement, l’Institut Wellesley estime qu’entre 150 000 et 300 000 personnes au Canada sont des sans-abri “visibles”, entre 450 000 et 900 000 sont des sans-abri “cachés”, et qu’un million et demi de foyers sont mal logés.  Le projet de loi C-304 offre l’occasion de garantir que le gouvernement fédéral – en collaboration avec le Québec, les provinces, les territoires, les gouvernements autochtones et autres instances – réagira à la crise du logement grâce à des objectifs spécifiques, des échéances précises et un financement adéquat.

La possibilité existe de mettre fin à l’itinérance au cours de la présente décennie et d’offrir à tous, au Québec et ailleurs au Canada, un logement sécuritaire, adéquat, accessible et abordable.  Merci encore au Bloc Québécois pour son ouverture et son soutien au projet de loi C-304.  Grâce à l’appui du Bloc, le droit de tous au logement pourra être honoré.

Sincères salutations,

[add your name]

English version:

Gilles Duceppe
Leader of the Bloc Québécois
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Duceppe:

I am writing to commend the Bloc Québécois for its continued openness to support Bill C-304, An Act to Ensure Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing.  By doing so, your Party will help ensure that Canada complies with its human rights obligations on housing pursuant to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Canada needs a housing strategy that will support municipalities, provinces and territories.  As you know, they are greatly stretched in their capacity to address rising housing insecurities and homelessness.  In its major new report on housing, the Wellesley Institute estimates that 150,000 to 300,000 people in Canada are visibly homeless, 450,000 to 900,000 people are “hidden” homeless, and 1.5 million households are in core housing need.  Bill C-304 has the ability to ensure that the federal government, in collaboration with Québec, the provinces, territories, Aboriginal governments and others, responds with specific targets, timelines, and funding to solve the housing crisis.

An opportunity exists to see the end of homelessness in this decade, and to provide all people in Québec and elsewhere in Canada with secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing. We again thank the Bloc Québécois for its continued openness to support Bill C-304.  With the Bloc’s help, everyone’s right to housing will be honoured.

Sincerely

[add your name]

3. Support the Report! Help make a breakthrough for poverty in Canada.
(Dignity for All) An all party committee of parliament has just put forward a report that could change the face of poverty in Canada. The report calls for the federal government to immediately commit to a federal action plan to reduce poverty in Canada. Dignity for All and its supporting organizations have contributed to and pushed for this report, now we must make its recommendations a reality.We can’t let this excellent parliamentary report just be ignored and sit on a shelf to gather dust.

Send a message
now to the government that we need immediate action to end poverty in Canada. And send a copy of your message to your Member of Parliament asking her/him to support the recommendations in the HUMA Report.

4. Update: New Child Poverty Report Card for BC
The recent release of this year’s Child Poverty Report Card from First Call: Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition and Campaign garnered an amazing amount of media coverage. This is obviously a critical issue for British Columbians and now we need provincial leadership.

News release: First Call
A Time for Leadership in Fighting Child Poverty

Children need the political leaders of British Columbia to step forward and commit themselves to fighting poverty, BC Campaign 2000 said today in its latest annual report on child poverty.

“Child and family poverty simply won’t disappear on its own,” said Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. “Political leaders in other provinces understand this, but in BC we are still waiting for courageous leadership on this issue.”

The child poverty rate in British Columbia dropped to 14.5 percent in 2008, according to the latest figures published by Statistics Canada. The number of poor children was 121,000 – or about one of every seven BC children. Alarmingly, the poverty rate for children under age six was 19.6%, or one in five young children. Montani said 2008 could have the lowest poverty figures of the decade. The recession that started in late 2008 is almost certain to produce higher poverty figures in 2009 and 2010. Indicators such as increases in 2009 and 2010 in food bank use and families on income assistance signal this anticipated rise.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • The risk of poverty for female lone-parent families is 31% , two and a half times greater than for children in 2-parent families, but the majority of poor children (67%) live in two-parent families.
  • The vast majority of BC’s poor children live in families with some income from paid work, with over one third having at least one adult working full-time, full-year.
  • Inequity is growing. The gap between the incomes of the richest 10% and poorest 10% of families with children grew from a ratio of 11 to 1 in 2007 to 14 to 1 in 2008. Families in the three lowest income groups (deciles) saw an actual decline in their incomes between 1989 and 2008.

Seven provinces and territories have either enacted or committed themselves to enacting anti-poverty strategies, and at least one other province is said to be ready to join the majority. Both the House of Commons and the Senate have recently issued reports urging Ottawa to commit to an anti-poverty strategy of its own. In November 2009, the House of Commons passed a unanimous resolution to develop an immediate plan to eliminate poverty in Canada for all.

Despite growing pressure from a wide variety of voices within the province for BC to follow suit, BC’s children are still looking for this kind of leadership. The Liberal government has regularly denied the severity of the problem, and promised for over a year that a “cross-ministry initiative” will be coming soon. Poverty has yet to become an issue in the prelude to the BC Liberal leadership race. The NDP has called for the government to introduce a poverty reduction plan with targets and timelines, but has yet to put forward the details of their own plan.

Visit <http://www.firstcallbc.org/pdfs/EconomicEquality/3-reportCard2010.pdf> to read the Child Poverty Report Card.

Thanks so much for your continued support!
Sincerely,

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition