A Global Need: Social Workers Call for the Eradication of Poverty

Monday, July 26 2010
October 17, 2005: On this the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) brings to the public's attention the poverty experienced by people both nationally and internationally.


On October 11, 2005, Ms. Veronica Marsman, president of CASW, in her correspondence to Prime Minister Martin, stated, "It makes no sense that more than 150 million people, an amount nearly five times the number of Canadians, live without the simple human dignity and freedom to enjoy the ordinary pleasures of having enough to eat, a shelter to call home, learning the joy of reading and writing, staying healthy and having meaningful work and earning a living wage." In addition, she encouraged Prime Minister Martin to acknowledge the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by honouring Canada's commitment to overseas development assistance and by affirming the unanimous request of the House of Commons earlier this year to increase Canada's overseas development assistance to the level of 0.7% of the gross national income. This commitment could be met by ensuring that the surplus recently announced by Minister Goodale is used to increase Canada's contribution.


Within Canada, inadequate housing and insufficient funds to meet the basic needs of children and families are just a few symptoms of the epidemic of poverty. The 2004 Report Card produced by Campaign 2000 and recent reports issued by CASW on women and poverty provide statistics that confirm the stories of poverty which social workers see every day: one in six of Canada's children lives in poverty; female lone-parent families have by far the lowest average total income among families in Canada; and women make up a disproportionate share of the population with low incomes - in 2001, this affected 2.4 million women compared to 1.9 million men. These are just some of the statistics.


The strength of the social safety net must be reinforced through changes in policies to help those living in poverty while preventing others from getting trapped in poverty. Furthermore, long-standing commitments for programs and initiatives to support Canada's most vulnerable people and eradicate poverty must be implemented.


Social workers agree with the Prime Minister's statement made in his recent address to the United Nations: "We need to see the world through the eyes of the people we are trying to help." On the basis of that empathy and understanding, CASW expects Prime Minister Martin to act.   The CASW is a federation of provincial and territorial associations representing over 16,000 social workers in Canada.

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