New National Anti-Poverty Organization report on homelessness blames government for current crisisMonday, July 26 2010
Summerside, PEI: Poverty and homelessness is a national crisis that must be addressed by all politicians in Canada's federal election and by any new
government formed after the June 28th election, according to the National Anti-Poverty Organization.
As they publicly launch a new report called Voices: Women, Poverty and Homelessness in Canada at the Salvation Army soup kitchen in Summerside, Prince Edward Island today, NAPO is taking aim at all levels of government to address the issues affecting homelessness, with particular emphasis on federal policies.
The result of a multi-year project analyzing the causes and conditions of dramatically increasing numbers of homeless women in Canada since the 1990s, the report traces the lives and personal stories of homeless women in Halifax, Ottawa and Vancouver in the context of such political realities as changes to transfer payments and failed promises on national housing strategies.
"These women have several things in common. They are women, they are homeless, society has failed them and the government has abdicated its responsibility to them," says NAPO past president and current board member, Linda Lalonde. "This is why NAPO is calling on candidates to commit to solving the homelessness crisis."
"People who are homeless have been hit extremely hard by the systematic dismantling of our social programs, the lack of basic federal social assistance rights formerly contained in the Canada Assistance Plan and national responsibility for the planning and management of necessary housing infrastructure," Lalonde adds.
NAPO's report calls for a number of important recommendations to be implemented by the next federal government. Highlights include:
The Federal Government should:
- Implement and adequately fund a national housing strategy.
- Implement and adequately fund a national action plan on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- Implement and adequately fund a national childcare program.
- Reinstate the right (formerly contained in CAP) to social assistance without workfare, time limits, waiting periods and other restrictions.
- Increase transfer payments to the provinces specifically for social housing and income support programs.
- Increase spending on social housing to at least 1% of total expenditures.
Provincial and Territorial Governments should:
- Raise income support levels such as social assistance and disability pensions to provide poor people with an income at least equal to the poverty line.
- Raise minimum wages to provide an annual income at least equal to the poverty line.
- Provide services that adequately address the needs of individuals living with mental health issues and addictions.
- Pass anti-poverty legislation that makes them responsible for implementing an action plan on poverty issues with clear timelines for any initiatives. The action plan should be subject to mandatory review by an independent non-governmental agency.
- All levels of government should develop participatory budgeting processes that include participation of poor and homeless individuals, and groups dealing with poverty and homelessness. Participants should have the power to make decisions on budgetary matters, including the allocation of funds for affordable housing and income support programs.
All levels of government should be held legally liable for violations of provincial, national and international human rights legislation.
For the full report, please go to www.napo-onap.ca
For more information, please contact:
NAPO Board of Directors
NAPO board representative, Eastern region
Sandra Bender, Researcher
National Anti-Poverty Organization
2212 Gladwin Crescent, Unit C7
Ottawa, ON K1B 5N1
(613) 789-0096 ext. 28