December 19, 2016 - Open Letter to the Prime Minister re: Bill C-26

December 19, 2016

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minster of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

cc:

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

The Honourable William Morneau
Minister of Finance

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

On behalf of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), I would like to cautiously commend your government for the introduction of Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act, but is deeply concerned that your government will not follow through on the promise to revise the Bill’s language to include all Canadians.

As background for you, CASW is the national association voice for social workers in Canada; working to strengthen and promote the profession while advancing issues of social justice. To this end, CASW is an organization known for its commitment to equity and human rights for all Canadians, and have specifically championed the cause of equity over recent years.

To this end, CASW was very pleased by your government’s mandate to develop a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that supports provincial and municipal poverty reduction strategies; we believe the CPP expansion would have tremendous potential to contribute toward eliminating poverty if it is properly tailored to support vulnerable populations.

In terms of Bill C-26, CASW echoes the concerns expressed by opposition Members of Parliament, many stakeholders, and the public that the proposed legislation constitutes a step backwards. Specifically, we are concerned that the expansion proposed in Bill C-26 lacks the provisions present in the existing Canada Pension Plan to include and protect women and parents, persons with disabilities, and others. In short, CASW sees this lack of inclusion as an oversight that must be corrected.

As such, CASW was encouraged to hear comments made by Minister Duclos assuring the public that your government understands and appreciates the concerns about the lack of said provisions; he also stated that Minister Morneau would meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts to address the issue and retool existing wording or develop a new section altogether.

While we are pleased that this oversight was acknowledged and that there is intent to address it, this promise is simply not strong enough. It is within your government’s power to make the necessary legislative change immediately to protect and include all Canadians.

CASW appreciates your caucus’ comments that changes to an existing Bill must be discussed with the provinces and territories; we wonder, however, why the provinces and territories would take an issue with a change that would more closely align Bill C-26 with the existing Canada Pension Plan?

We have observed many positive changes to restore social well-being to Canadians from your government during this first 14 months of your mandate, and trust that you will resolve this issue in kind. CASW commits to holding your government accountable to the addition of the requested provisions, or so-called dropout clauses; without them this new legislation weakens Canada’s social landscape; the opposite of Bill C-26’s intended purpose.  

CASW looks forward to continuing to support your government in the implementation of positive changes for Canada, chief among them the reversal of the past government’s punitive socially irresponsible policy decisions that benefited the privileged while ignoring – or worse, further marginalizing – the already vulnerable.

If you would like to learn more about our organization and the work we do to advance social justice in Canada, visit our website at casw-acts.ca. Again, on behalf of the CASW federation, I commend you on the principles behind Bill C-26, but look forward with optimism to swift action to rectify this error.

Sincerely,

Jan Christianson-Wood, MSW, RSW

President, CASW