In early August, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Habitat for Humanity build on Enfield Crescent, the first Habitat build in St. Boniface since 2012. Three low-income families will move into this triplex in late December or early 2019.
There was a large group of volunteers out on a very hot day, but the weather could not deter the enthusiasm on the ground. Side-by-side with the future homeowners, we worked together to help them achieve their dream of a safe, adequate and affordable home.
In a country as prosperous as Canada, all Canadians should have the opportunity to succeed. That is why I was honoured to unveil Canada’s first-ever Poverty Reduction Strategy, Opportunity for All, last week.
Opportunity for All builds on the Government of Canada’s significant investments since 2015, including the Canada Child Benefit, the Canada Workers Benefit, the National Housing Strategy and the increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. It is a plan for a concerted, coordinated fight against poverty on multiple fronts. It is the Government’s vision for a Canada as a world leader in the eradication of poverty and represents a whole-of-society approach to tackling poverty, which means everyone has a role to play.
In 2015, there were 4.2 million Canadians living in poverty, representing 1 in 8 Canadians or 12.1 percent. By 2016, this number dropped to 3.7 million Canadians, a half a million decrease. Opportunity for All sets ambitious and concrete poverty reduction targets: a 20-percent reduction in poverty by 2020 and a 50-percent reduction in poverty by 2030, which, relative to 2015 levels, will lead to the lowest poverty rate in Canada’s history.
For the first time in Canada’s history, the Strategy sets an official measure of income: Canada’s Official Poverty Line, based on the cost of a basket of goods and services that individuals and families require to meet their basic needs and achieve a modest standard of living in communities across the country.
Legislation is proposed for introduction as early as possible in Parliament that would entrench Canada’s Official Poverty Line, the poverty reduction targets and a National Advisory Council on Poverty in law. Furthermore, the Government’s progress toward meeting the targets every year will be published in an annual report and tabled in Parliament every year.
Opportunity for All will help reduce poverty, support Canadians working hard to join the middle class, and build a diverse, prosperous and truly inclusive country where everyone benefits from economic growth—a country where all Canadians can realize their full potential. As Canadians, we expect and deserve nothing less.