Sherri Torjman of the Caledon Institute wrote this blog about the new all party anti-poverty caucus that recently formed. I have copied here text below or you can read the full blog on the Caledon Institute website.
By Sherri Torjman:
Last evening marked the launch of the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus. Senator Art Eggleton hosted a reception on Parliament Hill to make the announcement. The newly-formed Caucus will include Senators and Members of Parliament from all political parties.
While the terms of reference of this Anti-Poverty Caucus are not yet set, the scope of the work potentially could be very broad. It might consider certain groups, such as aboriginal Canadians who experience disproportionately high rates of poverty and whose living conditions in many parts of the country are nothing short of shameful.
The Caucus might explore the impact of growing inequality. In fact, Liberal MP Scott Brison introduced a motion on April 25, 2012, that would require the House of Commons Finance Committee to study income inequality. The work would include but not be limited to:
Affordable housing is a third issue that the Anti-Poverty Caucus might tackle. This area is particularly significant because stable, decent housing provides the basis for healthy childhood development and the foundation for a good quality of life. It would be especially important because of the pending expiry of several major housing agreements.
In July 2011, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for housing announced a $1.4 billion Affordable Housing Framework 2011-2014. The investment was intended to reduce the number of Canadians in housing need.
The Framework recognizes the importance of supporting a range of affordable housing solutions. These include new construction, renovation, homeownership assistance, rent supplements, shelter allowances and accommodation for victims of family violence.
The Framework also acknowledges that provinces and territories have primary responsibility for the design and delivery of affordable housing. Each jurisdiction worked toward a bilateral agreement with Ottawa, which matched federal funding with provincial/territorial and other contributions.
But a double whammy threatens to hit affordable housing. In addition to the pending expiry of the Affordable Housing Framework is the imminent demise of long-term operating agreements. These subsidies were established by the federal government from the 1950s to the early 1990s. They were meant to pay the debt on social housing mortgages and to assist with operating deficits, covering the difference between rents paid by low-income households and operating expenses. The agreements were struck for periods of 25 to 50 years.
These agreements have started to expire, siphoning an estimated $2 billion a year from affordable housing buildings and units. The funds have not been replaced, despite continued high rates of poverty and homelessness in the country.
Fortunately, the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus will be in place in the fall to address these issues. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of issues for it to address.