In a country as wealthy as ours, is it fair that so many families must struggle constantly just to survive?

One in six Canadians live in poverty—and some of the highest rates of poverty are right here in Northern Manitoba. Nearly 1.2 million are children. Some are adults on shrinking social assistance, facing tough barriers to employment. Others work for rock-bottom wages. In fact, one quarter of poor families now have someone working full-time. And half of all working families say they’re only a couple of missed paycheques from falling into poverty themselves.

Fighting poverty doesn’t fit the Conservatives’ narrow ideology, but the Liberals aren’t the answer. When push came to shove, they’re the ones who left our social safety net in tatters: they gutted Employment Insurance, ended Ottawa’s role in welfare, and axed the world-recognized affordable housing program the NDP helped create.

Poverty denies us freedom and hope, and it’s the biggest single factor in ill health. Confronting poverty means recognizing the human dignity in everyone—and our responsibility to help those neighbours who fall through the cracks.

So when NDP MPs defend good jobs and affordable training, what they’re defending is our freedom to thrive in good health. When they promote affordable housing, they’re standing up for two million families who can’t find shelter they can afford—who must sacrifice other essentials or else feel the sting of homelessness (as 250,000 Canadians did last year).

The NDP has already rewritten one federal budget—in 2005, the NDP cancelled Liberal corporate tax cuts and invested instead in priorities like affordable housing and training. Now the NDP is building on that progress, building toward the comprehensive anti-poverty strategy that Canada needs:

  • Fixing Employment Insurance – The NDP has tabled eight bills to reform EI so hard-working Canadians can again qualify for fair benefits while they seek new employment or retraining.
  • Restoring a federal minimum wage – The NDP has tabled legislation to reinstate the federal minimum wage the Liberals axed, setting it at $10/hour to ensure a basic living standard.
  • Moving forward on child care – After years of setbacks, the NDP has moved past second reading with landmark legislation to make affordable child care a permanent national program.
  • Protecting seniors – Parliament has adopted the NDP’s Seniors Charter enshrining every senior’s right to secure income, housing and health care—including free drug and dental coverage.
  • Confronting homelessness – While advocating a national housing strategy, NDP MPs also pressured the government to abandon cuts to homelessness and community housing initiatives.
  • Making education affordable – The NDP has a practical plan to ease crippling student debt, and has already secured a Parliamentary study on improving access to literacy and skills training.
  • Fighting for women’s equality – The face of poverty is disproportionately female, and New Democrats are helping to lead the struggle for equality for women at home and at work.
  • Seeking fairness for people with disabilities – The NDP is refining a Canadians with Disabilities Act targeting the income and employment gaps that Canadians with disabilities still face.
  • Seeking justice for Aboriginal people – The NDP is working for solutions that honour Canada’s obligations to First Nations, Métis and Inuit people—while improving the appalling living conditions too many still face.
  • Feeding children – Alongside several community groups, the NDP co-launched the Children’s Health & Nutrition Initiative so no kids have to go to school hungry.
  • Reducing bank fees – The NDP is tabling legislation to end the ATM-machine money-grab that made Canadians cough up $420-million in 2005 just to access their own money.

In a country like Canada there is no reason why we can’t fight poverty and achieve social and economic justice for all.