Senator Art Eggleton

Politicians set aside partisan politics to tackle poverty

  • June 20, 2012

OTTAWA - Politicians across party lines in the House of Commons and Senate have launched the all-party Anti-Poverty Caucus to examine ways to fight poverty across Canada.

“I think we all understand the moral issues,” said Senator Art Eggleton, a former Liberal cabinet minister and mayor of Toronto, one of three co-chairs at the June 12 launch. “We all understand this is not right for our country.”

Eggleton said the number of poor people in Canada is as large as the population of the Atlantic provinces with Saskatchewan added to the mix, and “One in four of those are children.”

Poverty drives up health care costs, he said, noting that a recent study had revealed poverty costs Canadians between $24-30 billion annually, “driving up our taxes and depressing our economy.”

NDP co-chair MP Jean Crowder stressed the importance of addressing poverty in a non-partisan way. Crowder has re-submitted a private member’s bill calling for a national anti-poverty strategy originally put forward by former NDP MP Tony Martin. Bill C-233 is based on the recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources that reached a non-partisan consensus.

Poverty is a moral issue, an economic issue and a social justice issue, Crowder said.  

“I’m looking forward to working together to tackle this in our all-party way,” she said, noting she hoped next June the caucus could celebrate some accomplishments.

The third co-chair, Conservative MP Michael Chong, is looking forward to the caucus providing “a forum to educate ourselves and Parliamentarians about the causes of poverty in this country.”

“The causes are often complex and multifaceted,” said Chong. When the causes of poverty are better understood, there can be “a second discussion on solutions.”

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