August 21, 2018 – Today, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) joins advocates across Canada in applauding the arrival of the long-awaited National Poverty Reduction Strategy. The result of decades of advocacy from many individuals and organizations including CASW, the announcement signals leadership from this federal government to bringing dignity to all Canadians.
“Though the charge for a national poverty reduction strategy includes so many passionate advocates, there are a few notable organizations that I must mention,” began CASW President, Jan Christianson-Wood. “We are particularly proud to have been a member of the Dignity for All Campaign, founded by Citizens for Public Justice and Canada without Poverty, since its inception, and can’t help but feel the arrival – and the timing—of this strategy is the result of nearly a decade of hard work from this campaign.”
In 2009, Dignity for All set the aspirational campaign goal of working to end poverty in Canada by 2020 – and though not quite as lofty, this federal government’s plan to reduce low-income rates in Canada by 50 per cent by 2030 is a commendable step in the right direction.
“Ten years ago, the prospect of federal leadership in actively reducing poverty in Canada was bleak,” notes Christianson-Wood. “And although the announced national poverty reduction plan does not appear to be grounded in rights based legislation that will demand accountability and adequate investment, we are deeply hopeful that the announced council to advise the Minister marks a return to true, cooperative federalism and strong leadership for the benefit of all Canadians.”
Since 2014, CASW has advocated for the adoption of a Social Care Act for Canada (SCA): similar to the Canada Health Act, this act would support bringing accountability to the Canada Social Transfer and help guide future social investments with principles to promote equity and fairness across our country. Most importantly, a Social Care Act would support creating an accountability framework.
As it stands, the federal government has no idea how the Canada Social Transfer (14 billion dollars in 2018-19 with a 3% annual automatic escalator) is being used by the provinces and territories to support social services as the funds are simply added to general revenue. There is no requirement to report back, let alone demonstrate return on investment.
“We strongly believe a Social Care Act is a key missing piece to the success of this National Poverty Reduction Strategy.” notes Christianson-Wood. “Accountable investments are the only way to determine if targets are being met and if more annual or targeted investment is needed to support Canadians to live above the newly announced poverty line.”