Poverty Reduction Act

An Act respecting the reduction of poverty

Sponsor

Jean-Yves Duclos  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of Nov. 30, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-87.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment enacts the Poverty Reduction Act, which provides for an official metric and other metrics to measure the level of poverty in Canada, sets out two poverty reduction targets in Canada and establishes the National Advisory Council on Poverty.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I am so very pleased to rise in the House today to introduce this important bill.

In August, the minister and I were honoured to launch “Opportunity for All - Canada's First Poverty Reduction Strategy”. Today, we are introducing the bill that will make this strategy a reality.

“Opportunity for All” is the government's response to what Canadians have told us about how we can fight poverty.

Over the past year and a half, we have been talking to people across the country to inform them of the development of our national poverty strategy. We have consulted people working on the front lines: researchers, indigenous partners and most importantly, people with lived experience. They have been telling us about the reality of struggling to make ends meet and satisfy basic needs. Essential things, such as providing for the needs of one's children or taking care of one's health, are simply out of reach for far too many people in this country.

We have heard about the plight of vulnerable people, namely seniors, youth, women, the LGBTQ2 community, racialized people, newcomers, persons with disabilities and single parents. It is a tragically long list.

We have heard that the poverty reduction strategy should acknowledge the challenges faced by these specific groups and should contain targeted policies and supports that specifically support them in the lives they lead and in ending their poverty.

We received ideas and insights into different ways to fight poverty. Bill C-87 is an attempt to do two things. First and foremost, it would set a poverty line right across the country. It would do so in a way that has never been done before. It would not simply be a measurement of income against the norm or against the achievable. It would set a poverty line by looking at a basket of consumer goods, such as housing, food and transportation, but would also rate things like access to health care, access to education and meaningful participation in democratic changes in communities.

The poverty line would be set across the country, but most importantly, it would also be regionalized across the country in different centres and different settings. That is because poverty is experienced, measured, felt and understood differently in different communities.

We are also working with indigenous communities to make sure that it reflects their experience and comprehension of what constitutes poverty by measuring the basket of goods they consider critical to a good life in this country.

Understanding poverty in this country in detail, from region to region, from community to community, from sub-population to sub-population and from nation to nation, is critical if we are going to attack it, lift people out of poverty and transform the lives of Canadians.

This project is also about making investments. I know that some have worried that the announcement of the poverty strategy is not attached to a major new set of spending initiatives. There is good reason for that. Our work on eliminating poverty did not begin with the formulation of this piece of legislation, nor did it begin with the idea that we should have a poverty line that is new and modern and measures poverty in real ways. Our work on eliminating poverty started the day we took office, the day we introduced tax cuts for middle-class Canadians, the day we introduced the Canada child benefit and the day we indexed that Canada child benefit. All those measures, and many more, $22 billion worth of investments over our first two years in office, were aimed at lifting people out of poverty.

They were successful. We have seen 300,000 children lifted out of poverty since we took office, and 650,000 Canadians. More importantly, over 550,000 full-time jobs have also been delivered, by Canadians to other Canadians, to make sure that poverty does not enter the lives of many families. In total, this is part of our commitment to eliminating poverty, reducing it substantially in this term of office and moving forward with even more aggressive strategies.

The investments some wanted with the announcement of this strategy are actually also forecast and have been pushed forward into this year, next year and beyond. For example, the national housing strategy, which is an integral part of reducing poverty in this country, is not just the $5.6 billion investment made in our first two years of office. It is also $40 billion that is locked into multilateral and bilateral agreements with provinces and territories over the next 10 years. In other words, it is a 15-year project, in many ways, to deliver affordable, safe and secure housing for Canadians right across the country. Some of that is in new housing builds. Some of that is in supports for rent supplements through the new Canada housing benefit and some of that is in simply honouring the operating agreements that were set to expire and allowed to expire by the previous government.

We also have a $7.5-billion investment, with provinces and territories and indigenous governments, in early learning and child care. This is another substantial investment that will make a transformative change in the lives of Canadian families, and most importantly, Canadian children, to make sure that we eliminate poverty and the challenges many families have accessing child care and early learning opportunities.

There are other measures on the horizon as well. We have announced an expert panel to show us the way to implement pharmacare. It is not something we can simply switch a switch and cut a cheque for. There are complications in terms of how to integrate it with provincial plans, how to integrate it with doctors' offices across the country and how to create a national formulary. All these things are part of delivering that program, but at the end of the day, what the program is going to do is deliver more affordable health care to vulnerable Canadians right across the country. Again, it will be a step in the direction of eliminating poverty.

The reason this is so critical to us is found in the international covenants we signed on the United Nations' sustainable development goals. We know that the sustainable development goals are focused as much on the elimination of social inequity, poverty, gender inequity and racial inequity as they are on sustainable and prosperous development on the economic front. We need to make sure that as we build a strong country, we do not leave people behind, because the precious resource we have is, in fact, Canadians who contribute to the success of this program.

The poverty reduction strategy has to be seen as much more than simply a series of programs that support vulnerable Canadians. It has to be seen as a major way of rethinking our economy, rethinking our social programs and rethinking our footprint in the coming century to make sure that we build the most resilient generation of Canadians ever. That is the goal of the poverty reduction strategy. That is the goal of many of our social programs, when taken together as a coordinated approach to reducing poverty.

As I said, there is much more to do. We know that EI reform is critically important in reducing poverty. We know that the work we have done on EI reform has made it easier for seasonal workers to sustain their employment in industries that stop and start based on the natural cycle of the economy in some parts of the country. We also know that making EI quicker and easier to receive is one of the ways we do not create cracks that people can fall between. We know that working while on benefits, extended maternity benefits and all the changes we have introduced to EI to make it more flexible and more accessible to Canadians are ways we are focused on reducing poverty and some the challenges Canadians face from time to time.

At the end of the day, there is more to do, because eliminating poverty is not something we can rest on after we have made investments. We have to constantly look for new gaps in society and new areas where poverty starts to lock in. For example, we have an aging population. We know that seniors are aging into poverty differently than they did a generation ago, partly because of precarious work and partly because of a changing economy, which is seeing benefits and pensions reshaped even after people have paid into them for many years. Therefore, pension reform and the changes we made to the GIS are part of our poverty reduction strategy.

When we looked at poor seniors and seniors who were living in difficult and marginalized economic circumstances, we saw that one of the things that was driving certain pockets of seniors' poverty was gender. We knew that when women lost their partners, they sometimes lost their full pensions. We knew that women living alone did not suddenly cut the expenses of living where they were living simply because a member of the family was no longer partnered with them to pay the bills. The boost we made to the guaranteed income supplement and the reform of CPP were all forward-looking measures that were part of our strategy to end poverty. They were not announced as part of the strategy. They were part of the work we have been doing over the last three years. However, they have projected positive results into the future and will help us meet the targets spelled out in the poverty reduction strategy.

Focusing in on building a strong middle class and focusing in on fighting climate change and providing adaption strategies to municipalities is also part of the poverty reduction strategy. If we look at natural disasters that have rocked this country, whether it is the fires in Fort McMurray, the floods in New Brunswick, the challenges in northern Ontario and Manitoba with water or the droughts that have hit some parts of this country, we know that as the economies are damaged in those parts of Canada, one of the things that also happens is that low-income Canadians suffer even more.

Getting those communities back on their feet means that we have economies those people can tie their lives to and move forward with. Minimizing the impact of climate change over the next decade and century will be just as critical in reducing poverty, because it will have a different impact on low-income Canadians.

We also know that poverty is different in the north and in remote communities. Access to healthy food and country food is becoming more difficult in places like the territories. With climate change, animal patterns, such as the herding of the caribou, pushes available food further away, or unfortunately, eliminates it altogether, in some circumstances. It changes access to healthy food and therefore has an impact on the way poverty is measured in northern communities.

As climate change moves forward, we know that some of the ice roads disappear, and therefore food security in the north is challenged. I was in the territories visiting Behchokö to look at some of the housing challenges there. The road we came into Behchokö on was like a roller coaster. I asked the member from the Northwest Territories when the road would be replaced, and he said that it had been replaced two years ago, but climate change had allowed the tundra to melt. The thaw-and-freeze cycle was heaving the road, and in doing so, destroying a very important investment, making it almost worthless as soon as it was finished.

These challenges have an impact on the economics and on the health and welfare of Canadians in the north. We have to turn our attention to that, because building strong infrastructure, like the connecting road between Yellowknife and Behchokö, is part of how poverty is reduced in those communities.

Access to health care is a critical driver in sustaining one's employment. If there is not access to the major centres in the north, and there is not access to the food and distribution centres in the north, we drive poverty into those communities.

When we look at poverty reduction and how we measure it, beyond just income and the large economic numbers previous formulas have looked at, access to these critical services is just as important. From that perspective, and from the perspective of the investments we are making in infrastructure, we can see that stronger transit infrastructure in major cities is also something that helps reduce poverty. If people can get to school, get to work and get home more easily, more reliably and more cheaply, with a more robust transit system across the country, it can have an impact on the quality of their lives. It is an impact that actually enriches people's lives by not taking as many dollars out of their pockets to pay for transit, by having the government step up and do that. It makes those things they need to have a better quality of life that much easier to access because of a stronger transit system.

All these investments do one other thing that is critically important. They deliver good-paying, often unionized, jobs to communities right across the country. It is the same thing with the housing policy. It is creating investments that not only sustain society in a progressive way but also create jobs and tie in supply chains. It means a good, strong economy focused on doing what this poverty strategy says must be done, which is eliminate poverty right across this country from coast to coast to coast.

We also need better data. We cannot simply rely on anecdotal evidence. We need to know whether racialized women are receiving health care at the same rate as other groups of women. We need to know whether indigenous children are faring as well coming out of the school system as non-indigenous children. We need to know exactly how government support for low-income communities impacts the economies in the communities where those dollars land. When the Canada child benefit lands in communities by the millions, right across this country, we need to understand the transformational change that has in people's lives so we can figure out where the gaps are and fill those gaps with new investments.

For example, when we make investments in child care, we need to know which families are getting it, which are not, and why not. If they are not getting it, we need to then look at our infrastructure programs to make sure the capital programs and the operating dollars are married to some of the other investments to make sure that we have good, strong, whole communities being built right across the country. Again, the poverty reduction strategy relies on data being generated through StatsCan and the long-form census as well as the segregated data that looks at subpopulations that experience poverty differently. We need to look at them in concert to make sure the investments we are making are reaching all Canadians and not just the averages, which previous systems, studies and poverty lines reached.

We also need to know from the data how many people we actually are lifting out of poverty and how many people we need to work harder to reach. The investment in data is as critical a part of today's announcement and the bill that is in front of us, as any of the measures I have spoken about from previous budgets or from future investments. Understanding what the problem is and measuring the problem is one of the best ways to start to manage that problem.

We know that poverty will change in the next decade and the next century. We know that poverty is not a static or singularly defined reality for Canadians. We know that in Atlantic Canada, for example, as fish stocks change, as communities transform and as new technologies provide opportunities for new businesses, the kinds of poverty we find in isolated or coastal communities also change. We need to make sure that, as we move forward as a country, we start to understand those details and understand how poverty is different from region to region to make sure our programs are not one-size-fits-all designed-in-Ottawa solutions, but rather ideas that grow from the ground up.

One of the ways we are going to accomplish that is an advisory panel to the minister that will provide lived experience, a voice inside the ministerial offices directly to us in Parliament, to make sure we have a regionalized and diversified set of experiences reporting out, including academics and experts as well as activists and front-line workers and our partners in municipal, provincial and indigenous governments. We need to make sure we have an advisory panel that reflects the true diversity of poverty in this country so that as we evolve programs, we do not evolve them in a vacuum; we evolve them with a constant check-in to make sure the advice we are getting, the policy we are developing, and the programs we are delivering impact all Canadians in a way that is positive. That, too, is a critically important part of the bill that has been presented to the House here today.

As I said, we also have targets and those targets are critically important. We know, for example, that in 2015 there were 4.2 million people living in poverty in this country. We know that 1.3 million people are considered the working poor. We know that when we measure and set these targets to reduce poverty and achieve the 2030 targets set out in this bill, we have to do it methodically, persistently, and in a way that does not leave particular groups behind. Therefore, the targets that have been set, which are consistent with SDGs and consistent with our commitments to the United Nations, are aspirational targets. Can we do it faster? I hope we can. Can we reach more people quickly with stronger programs? We work every day to find out how to be more effective on that front, and we rely on some of the voices that come from across the aisle to get there, to make sure that our ideas become stronger and become more beneficial to the individuals in question.

At the end of the day, I want to leave members with one last thought and this thought is at the heart of what we are doing. We have an opportunity in this Parliament to set a way in the next century to build the most resilient generation of children in this country's history. We need them. We need every child in this country to make a contribution to the betterment of Canada. We do that by making sure that seniors can contribute and transfer their knowledge to the young ones. We do it by making sure that those of us who are working hard right now in Parliament or in companies, businesses or community centres across the country are focused on making sure we end child poverty as quickly and as furiously as we possibly can. If we can build that resilient generation of Canadian children, if we can build the happiest, healthiest, smartest and most resilient kids in the world, Canada will succeed. More important, those children will succeed.

That is why the poverty reduction strategy is a central piece of our thinking, a central piece and focus of the network of bills, laws and budgets we have passed over the last two years, and it is why it is the focus of our government, going forward into the next century.

I want all members to get behind this, not just for today but through to the end of this parliamentary session and to commit themselves to those ideals we just spoke about: ending poverty in this country; focusing on building the most resilient generation of Canadian children in the history of Canada; and making sure that no one in this country is left behind as we build a stronger country by eliminating poverty and building a better future for Canada.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is a wonderful speech by the hon. gentleman on the other side, and a beautiful bedtime story. However, the annex of the bill is empty. There is nothing in it. It is a blank page. How did he come up with all these achievements that he is claiming that his government would achieve with this bill when the bill itself is empty?

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the debate all week has been about the budget implementation bill and the members opposite have said there is too much in it. One of the biggest parts of the budget implementation bill, in fact almost two-thirds of it, is pay equity legislation. Pay equity eliminates poverty for hundreds and thousands of women across this country.

So for the strategies we have employed, I said in my speech they are not in the poverty reduction strategy per se, they are in all of the work we have been doing since we took office: the national housing strategy, the Canada child benefit, the boost to the GIS, the improvements to the CPP and the pay equity legislation that was just introduced. It goes on and on. There is the $7.5-billion investment in early learning and child care. All of these investments constitute the basket of investments we have made to reduce poverty and it is working as 300,000 kids are out of poverty and 650,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty as a direct result, not of the index in the bill but in previous budgets and bills introduced by this government, and I am proud to have made those possible as a member.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, we all want poverty to be eliminated in our country and women have been at the front line of poverty, no question. When women are paid less because there is no proactive federal pay equity legislation, they are the ones who drop out of the workplace to look after kids or elders, with no universal affordable child care. They end up taking the brunt of family care and get into more precarious and part-time work. We have been calling on the government to reform EI legislation and it has not. It would have helped women in precarious work have more of a social safety net.

I cannot let my colleague's comment about pay equity go unanswered. CUPE says its members have been waiting decades for federal proactive pay equity legislation and, “Based on this legislation, it appears women could be waiting until 2027 for a full remedy. We urge the government to...ensure that women's equality rights are no longer denied.” I moved 20 amendments to the budget implementation act in the finance committee, putting forward the exact amendments that the Ontario Pay Equity Coalition, CUPE, the Teamsters and the Canadian Labour Congress proposed, detailed amendments under tight timelines because the government has rammed through the budget implementation act and, therefore, the pay equity bill at every step of the way and the Liberals voted every amendment down. How do they answer that?

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:25 a.m.
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Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the approach to pay equity may differ on the other side of the House from the program that we have put in place, but there is also a difference sometimes in the way in which the motions that the member spoke to are received on the government side because they do not fit into the legislative framework. It is not that they are not necessarily good ideas, they just do not match the way in which the programs can be achieved.

I know that many times the opposition wants measures legislated rather than regulated, which is an inside baseball kind of way of explaining some of the challenges, but I would ask the member opposite to look at the regulations that flow from the legislation, because I think many of the things she wants would be achieved through regulation rather than legislation.

There is an issue that I always wonder about with the NDP, and I think if the member opposite and I had both been members of the House in 2006, we would not have defeated the government at the time when it had comprehensive pay equity legislation, comprehensive national day care, $2 billion for housing and the Kelowna accord all put together. I think we would have waited for that to go through before we decided to play politics with an election. We would made sure that we locked in those achievements that were part of the last Martin government because that would have been great for Canada over the last 10 years. Unfortunately, some parties chose politics over policy and Canadians have been suffering for the last 10 years.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, over the last two to three years we have been talking a lot about measures that will have a profound positive impact on Canada. Some of those measures deal specifically with the issue of poverty. I am referring to the guaranteed income supplement in the first budget to alleviate and lift thousands of seniors, the poorest seniors in the country, out of poverty. We had the enhancement to the Canada child benefit program, lifting thousands of children out of poverty.

My colleague just commented on the issue of pay equity. Pay equity, in part, is being dealt with in this budget implementation bill.

My question for my colleague and friend is this. Does he not agree that, from a political point of view, over the last few years we have seen a very progressive government on a number of very important social files?

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, my remarks highlighted $22 billion worth of investments we have made since the day we took office that are all aimed at alleviating poverty. The member down the aisle suggested the CPP reform and the GIS changes to support single seniors were a part of that. They are, as is the national housing strategy, which is not just the 10 years and $40 billion, it is also the $5.6 billion that was spent in the first two years of office, which is building housing now from coast to coast to coast, in particular, with a co-operative government in B.C., where every housing dollar that is being spent in B.C. has a federal contribution.

It would be nice for the NDP across the way to recognize that instead of complain about it, but that is the reality. Our investments of $22 billion have lifted 650,000 Canadians out of poverty, 300,000 of whom are children. That is progress because of real dollars being delivered to real people to build real change in this country. I hope and pray that the next budget will do even more.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague recently commented on all of the great work the Liberals have done in bringing seniors out of poverty with the increases to the GIS. The parliamentary secretary went on and on about it. However, I happened to notice that the departmental results released a couple of weeks ago show the opposite. They show that the number of seniors living below the low-income cut-off has actually risen. I asked the Library of Parliament to do a report. I have bad eyes, so I am not holding it as a prop, I am just reading it. It shows that for the market basket measure, low-income cut-off, 1992 base, and low-income measure after tax, the number of seniors living in poverty has increased since the government came into power in 2015. Therefore, I have to ask this. Why is the government focused more on rhetoric than helping our seniors?

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Spadina—Fort York, ON

Mr. Speaker, with an aging population, we face challenges with the senior population. There is no question about that. As we have more seniors, we have more senior poverty. That is why we have to do more than simply talk about it, we have to make investments. The investments in affordable housing, the investments in the CPP, and reducing the age retirement from 67 to 65 will lift 150,000 seniors out of potential poverty all by themselves.

The endless focus on nothing but the size of the debt is ignoring the deficit that is built into people's lives and the social capacity that is missing, the infrastructure that is missing, the resiliency that does not arrive because we are not making the proper investments. We have to measure more than just the balance sheet. We have to measure the impact our policies are having on the lives of people. When people fall into poverty, all of us have failed. We take that responsibility seriously. We are doubling down on making sure that our investments in pharmacare and other programs, in particular, housing, are going to alleviate that and change those numbers, because if we do not alleviate poverty in seniors, they cannot make contributions to the rest of this country, and we need their contributions also.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on Bill C-87, an act respecting the reduction of poverty, and Canada's first poverty reduction strategy. However, it is a six-page document, and so there is not a lot there.

This poverty reduction strategy is truly a re-announcement of 87 programs either that the government put into place or modified or that had been around for decades. Let us not kid ourselves when we talk about this poverty reduction strategy. It is a re-announcement of things that have happened since October 2015. That is all we are seeing here.

The Liberals talk about the fact that the bill would put in a metric, and the member for Spadina—Fort York talked about using this new measurement. I would like to let him and all Canadians know that this measurement has been used for decades. I applaud the Liberals for actually adopting it as the official measurement, but please do not believe that this was something they concocted and created. This measurement was used by the human resources and skills development department for years.

There are four key things that I will focus on.

I will begin with the current poverty rate. Last week, we had the financial update from our finance minister, and I read the comments from Canadians on Twitter and Facebook. They will support a government that runs a deficit if they believe that the money is being spent well and where it is needed. One the biggest challenges I see here is that we have a government that has announced an $80 billion deficit in its mandate. However, if we look at what it has spent and what the actual statistics are showing, they are two absolutely different stories.

I will start with what the parliamentary secretary said moments ago, that the poverty reduction strategy started the day the Liberals took office. The facts I am going to give members today will compare data from 2014, the last year of the Harper Conservative government, with 2016 data, which is a full year of the current government, noting that it was working on poverty from October 19, 2015. The numbers show that the level of poverty for all persons remained at 13%. Therefore, the data shows that between 2014 and 2016, it was 13% with no variation in those numbers whatsoever. However, there is an $80 billion deficit.

For persons under the age of 18, the Liberals talk about the Canada child benefit, but we have seen a half percentage decrease based on this data, and we see an $80 billion deficit. For persons between the ages of 18 and 64, there have been very minor, insignificant changes. We see a change of about 1%. However the statistic for seniors really scares me, and will scare many members of my caucus, especially since we really focused on seniors and pushed to make sure we had a seniors minister. We thought the Liberals were not focusing on seniors, and we were right. We have now seen a 2% increase between 2014 and 2016 of people over the age of 65 when it comes to poverty. We also see an $80 billion deficit. What I am trying to show here relates to the Liberals' line that they are spending the money on the people who need it.

I am the first one to want to help somebody, but these numbers are not showing any changes. Instead, we are seeing deficit spending and we are not getting the results from it. That is one of the biggest challenges I see here. How can we support something when we are seeing no difference? This comes back to the metrics in the six-page bill, and they are not there. The targets are not there.

We recognize that the government is collecting data, and I will share some information.

I have had the opportunity as the shadow minister for families, children and social development to go across Canada and speak to people on the ground. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Hamilton at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. One of the biggest discussions there was on the point in time count. We wanted to compare the 2016 and 2018 data. When this came out in 2016, I thought it was really important to collect that data. We need to know what is leading to homelessness. We need to know how many are homeless. If we have these numbers, we can know if we have reduced it or if it has increased. I am okay with that.

However, people on the ground are coming out and saying that they were told to do one thing in 2016, and with the point in time count, they were told not to go to certain areas. I actually heard this from people who were doing point in time counts. They were told not to go to those areas because poverty was flourishing, those streets had people who were homeless and they did not want those people in the count.

This comes down to the people working for the Government of Canada, who were telling them not to go into those areas where poverty had increased.

I also have heard from the people in Kelowna. The trip to Kelowna was really interesting, and I sat and spoke to people at OneSky. They are doing absolutely fantastic work. However, they shared with me the concern that they did the point in time counts in 2016 and 2018, and they also did a name list, something that is really a wonderful measurement on this that we can talk more about in another discussion. They said that the factors they got in 2016 and 2018, through the point in time count endorsed by the government, was in a 24-hour window. Let us say that John, who has been on that street corner for 364 days asking for assistance, happens to not be on that corner that day. His name does not count because he is not there in that 24-hour period.

What we see is that the counts are being done in a very micro amount of time. When the same organizations from Kelowna are going out and doing a name count, we see that those numbers actually almost quadruple. They actually are saying that their point in time count will show less than 100, but when they did a name count of people out on the streets, they are talking about 400 people. That is a huge significant difference.

If we are going to talk about metrics, let us make sure we are getting our metrics straight and let us be sure the measurements we are using are the same from one year to another year and not putting some challenges there so that we get different results.

One thing that I also heard that was really important was, “You keep on counting us but we still don't have a home”. This is something that I want to bring to the attention of the minister, the parliamentary secretary and the government. It is lovely to collect this data; however, the people who are being asked for this data want to start seeing results. They are tired of doing these things and not seeing anything at the end of the day.

I now want to switch the page and talk about the national housing strategy. We have had some private members' bills that have come through, so we have had an opportunity to talk about housing in those areas. Let us actually talk about what the national housing strategy does.

Over one-third of this announcement is not new money. It is money that we saw in the 2016 and 2017 budgets. Therefore, when we talk about the national housing strategy, we are looking at old money and we are looking at some new money. A substantial portion requires provincial money. When the Liberal government talks about $40 billion, it is not $40 coming from the Canadian government, but funding that has to be matched. We have to make sure that those provincial governments are going to be at the table. Agreements have been signed, and kudos on that. However, we also have to make sure that these are agreements that the provinces are not being forced to make.

One of my biggest concerns is that the need for housing is now. We have heard our NDP colleagues talk about the need for housing. I recognize that we still see these challenges. We know that shelter use in Canada has actually increased under the government. It has not decreased. It has increased. More people are needing shelters.

What we look at is the strategy that goes from 2016 and then up to about 2029. We have the $40 billion for 10 years. We see that it is end-loaded. The emergency is today. The emergency is not 10 years from now. Are we saying that for a person who has lived on the streets for two years, we will add 12, and that person will get their money then? We also have to look at that. Some of my biggest concerns are around throwing money at things without really solving the problem.

Right now at the status of women committee, we are studying shelters. We have had some fantastic witnesses who have come in. If we are looking at where the housing issues are; we have to look at the actual housing continuum; we have to look at the shelters, we have to look at the subsidized housing; we have to look at affordable housing and supportive housing. Then we also have to look at what is actually attainable for Canadians.

One of the biggest challenges we are seeing, which is something that the government has not addressed, is that we see people being kept in shelters because there is no room to move out of that continuum. Here is just a little news alert: Every day somebody is looking for a shelter across Canada. There are always people looking for help, whether it is women leaving abusive relationships or people who just cannot financially support themselves and their housing. They are looking for places. However, the continuum of housing is broken and the government continues to allow it to be broken and continues to expand the problem. When somebody goes to look for affordable housing, there are problems. One example is a young woman I know of who moved into a place in June, into second stage housing. She is stuck in that second stage housing because there is no housing available. The housing markets are not there.

Therefore, when we look at the national housing strategy we can talk about affordable, but what is the plan to actually get affordable housing built? What is the plan to break it down and make sure that we are working with all our communities, from the developers and the landowners to the people who are actually out there with the hammers? We have seen huge gaps, and the government is not addressing them.

We talk about this all the time, but there are a few quotes that I want to share with the House. The reality check is here.

CBC News posted on June 13, 2018, “Between 2014 and 2017, chronic homelessness in the city climbed by 21 per cent, while the use of emergency shelters rose by 16 per cent.” Under the Liberal government the city of Ottawa has seen an increase in chronic homelessness of 21%. How is the government addressing that?

From the same source, here is a second quote about a report entitled,“Homelessness in Ottawa: A Roadmap for Change”. This report examines how the city's 10-year plan is faring and offers suggestions on how to turn the tide. “While the report contains some good news—577 people were able to move into their homes since 2015, thanks to the city's use of Housing First model—Deans acknowledges Ottawa is not trending in the right direction.”

We are talking about a document that was just put out that looked at housing from 2014 to 2017. The people from Ottawa are saying we are not going in the right direction, and this is under the Liberal government.

I also want to share a few quotes that talk about housing first.

The Liberal government talks about housing first, and let us be honest: the reason it does not like it is that the Conservatives put it in. It is that simple. We have seen many of our pieces of legislation that were done between 2006 and 2015 repealed, only because they were Conservative policy.

I want to read a few items, and these are really important and critical points.

From the Mental Health Commission's final report:

Over the two-year period after participants entered the study, every $10 invested in HF services resulted in an average savings of $9.60 for high needs.... Significant cost savings were realized for the 10 per cent of participants who had the highest costs at study entry. For this group, the intervention cost was $19,582 per person per year on average. Over the two-year period following study entry, every $10 invested in HF services resulted in an average savings of $21.72.

From the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, Tim Richter has spoken on this. People working in housing across Canada will understand who he is. I recognize that the parliamentary secretary knows him as well. He has indicated that we won't prevent and reduce chronic homelessness in Canada without housing first. Removing the housing first investment target could be risky because communities may drift away from the housing first investment, harming efforts to reduce homelessness.

Finally, the last quote is from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, which:

strongly objects to the government policy decision to remove the (65%) Housing First investment target.... Reaching Home leaves open the door for federal funding to be diverted toward homelessness interventions that are neither evidence-based nor best practice.

I just wanted to bring up that information, because we can sit here and talk about what a great deal the government is doing on the national housing strategy, and applaud, and all of these kinds of things, but we have people on the ground who face homelessness every day, who face clients every day, and these are the reports we are getting back.

Last night I appeared on a panel on CTV. We were talking about the emerging crisis that we have with immigration and the costs. The PBO indicated that over the two-year period from July 2017 to March 2019, if the government stays on track, it will spend $1.1 billion.

We really need to concentrate on the fact that the government has no true policies for the people who come into this country and does not have a plan on how we are going to assist these new immigrants.

Here is a quote from Toronto, which has seen a spike in refugee claimants and shelters this year, with average nightly numbers climbing to 3,191 this month, more than six times the level of two years ago.

Toronto Mayor John Tory has issued increasingly urgent calls for additional funding from federal and provincial governments. He says 41% of those in the city's already-strained shelter system are now refugee claimants. By November, this year is projected to hit 54%. As a result, for the first time the city is temporarily housing people in student residences at two community colleges, spaces that are filling up fast.

With yesterday's PBO report, we recognize that the cost of new immigrants into this country is basically on average what a minimum wage worker would make over the course of one year. That is what the Liberal government is spending because it does not have a plan. I wish it would start listening to what Canadians are saying.

I want to turn now to a positive note. The social finance fund was mentioned in the mini budget last week. Although it was supposed to be an economic statement, we saw a heck of a lot of spending included in it. The fall economic statement would make available $755 million on a cash basis over the next 10 years to establish a social finance fund, with an additional $50 million over two years in an investment and readiness stream. This is something our government started studying in 2011 and 2013. In 2015, it was in our federal budget. Therefore, this is something the Conservatives do believe in. However, part of the problem I have with this is where is the Liberal government going to find this money? We are already talking about an $80 billion dollar deficit, and now we are talking about what we are going to do next. That is one of my concerns.

We also have to remind ourselves that with 10-year programs we have to see where that money is being spent. If we are talking about social programs being financed through this social finance fund to help meet urgent needs, including homelessness, this money is once again back loaded and does not appear for the first two years in this mandate. That is really important. This is money that would be spent after the 2019 election. Like everything else the government proposes, it would be spent after the election so that the government can include it in its platform for its four-year mandate. These are huge concerns to me as well.

The child benefit is something the Liberals constantly talk about. They say that the Canada child benefit has lifted 300,000 children out of poverty. Anything that we can do to help our children, we will always support, but we also have to make sure that what government is doing is on the right track. Part of my concern is that if the Liberals are saying they are doing all of these things and we see less than half a per cent decrease in child poverty, we have a problem.

The current government is truly on a poor track. It has a poor track record, and its program performance is horrendous. We support measures that purport to reduce poverty and provide a fulsome approach. We oppose the carbon tax because we know it will be one more cost for these low-income people. The government is coming out with one of its policies, and it is not a climate change policy. It is an economic and social engineering policy. There is nothing there that says what will happen. I cannot take a supposed train that would not go from my house to my workplace. It does not exist. Like any other consumer, I will be in my automobile, just like the many other Canadians who do not have public transit. We will be in our automobiles and will be gassing up and paying 11 cents more a litre because of the government. I applaud the Government of Ontario for banning this ridiculous carbon tax.

We have something that has come out with 87 different programs in it. In the last few months, we have seen job losses: at GM this week, 2,800 jobs have been lost; at Bombardier, 5,000 jobs have been lost; and we cannot forget about the people in Alberta. One hundred and ten thousand jobs in Alberta have been lost because of the Prime Minister and Bill C-69 and because the ridiculous policies I have cited. The Liberals look at what they want, but they do not look at what Canadians want and need, and they need jobs.

On this entire poverty reduction strategy, how come we are not asking about how we can stay competitive in Canada, how we can retain jobs here in Canada and how we can create jobs in Canada? We do not see that discussed in Bill C-87. We know there are many ways of looking at poverty, and there are many different pillars. One of the pillars is a strong fiscal position and an economy that is creating jobs. We do not see job creation. If we saw job creation we would not have 110,000 people in Alberta losing their jobs. If the government were worried about poverty reduction it would be putting in place initiatives that keep people working in Canada and not putting them in the employment insurance program. Employment insurance is not the option Canadian workers are looking for. They are looking to go to work every day. They are looking at putting bread and butter on the table for their families. Their job is to go out there and get a job as a family member to be able to do that for their families.

Bill C-87 is gutless. It is worse than what Seinfeld would say. It is “filled with nothing.” If they are really talking about helping people out of poverty, where are the guts?

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, one of the good things about elections is that they bring new voices to Parliament. It is nice to see the Conservatives finally talking about housing, and the importance of data and investments, transforming the lives of low-income Canadians right across the country. For the last 10 years years, while I was in Parliament, that was not something the Conservatives focused on.

On the issue of housing, of course housing programs are back-end loaded. When 1,000 units are added to one constituency in one year, and 1,000 the next year, and 1,000 the year after that, we go from having to support 1,000 houses to 2,000 to 3,000. If the dollars do not grow with the program, there is no provision for rent support or dollars for repairs, and there is no growth toward a stronger, larger system to house more Canadians. That is why it is back-end loaded. That is the way every housing expert in the universe, let alone Canada, supports.

I want to ask the member opposite about Housing First, which she was so proud of. Housing First has a deliberate design flaw in it that required people to live on the streets for six month before they got rent. A senior who lost income because of a death in the family, perhaps, would have to live on the streets before they could get a rent cheque from the Conservative government. The same was true for youth aging out of care in the foster system. We were telling the most vulnerable children in the country that they had to live on the streets for six months before we would even think about talking to them about support.

Can the member opposite really say that those two policies are the hallmark of their social achievement and what Conservatives believe is good housing policy? It literally killed people.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the great work the parliamentary secretary has done.

When we have discussions, though, there cannot always be a right or wrong answer. I am saying with regard to this policy that we have experts on the ground who are saying that we should not deviate from Housing First. Are there flaws? There are some flaws. However, the member is making it out to be the worst program ever, saying how it did not work well. I would really question that.

If Conservatives had never talked about housing, the homelessness partnering strategy would not have been supported. Housing First initiative would never have been put forward. These are policies that the Conservative government put forward. These are the policies that we worked on.

The member can talk about Conservatives being absent on housing, but we were there and are just not sitting here flaunting and applauding things that we have not actually done.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, one in six Canadians lives in poverty. That is 5.8 million Canadians. When I consulted people in my riding prior to introducing my poverty reduction bill, business people told me that this statistic is not helping our economic development. Groups made it clear that investing too little in poverty reduction is costing us more than investing enough.

Investing in universal child care would enable people to go back to work full time. Investing in pharmacare would save Canadian employees and employers billions.

Does my colleague agree that investing in these measures would enable us to boost economic development? Ultimately, whatever it costs the government would come back to us fivefold.

It is important to invest in poverty reduction. Does my colleague agree?

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is really important to make smart investments. Once again, I really applaud the NDP member. She has done fantastic work and shows all of her compassion.

It is important to invest. Let me just give a snapshot of how the government is investing. Last week it was reported that $500,000 was used to create a logo and branding for poverty reduction. Is that the way we are going to spend our money? It definitely is the way the Liberal government spends money, but is that what is best for Canadians? Is a $500,000 bill the proper way to do this?

We need smart investments, and that is something the government cannot do.

Poverty Reduction ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about her passion to see the end of poverty. I would like to ask her about one particular policy, which was the increase in the age to receive old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. The previous government changed the age from 65 to 67, which affected our most vulnerable seniors, taking $13,000 out of their pockets each year.

If the member is such a fan of reducing poverty, why did she and her party support that, and how can she continue to go on suggesting that poverty was a focus for the government, when the Conservatives were impacting our most vulnerable seniors?