Poverty Reduction Act

An Act respecting the reduction of poverty


Jean-Yves Duclos  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of Nov. 6, 2018

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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.


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.

PovertyAdjournment Proceedings

November 8th, 2018 / 6:30 p.m.
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Steven MacKinnon Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. We often talk about other issues that fall under my department, but I am very pleased to be here this evening to address the important issue of poverty.

Since coming to power, our government has been working very hard to reduce poverty in Canada. We have taken tangible initiatives and measures to help the middle class, but of course we are focusing on those who want to join the middle class.

Shortly after coming to power, we also raised taxes for the wealthiest 1% and we used that money to lower taxes for the middle class. To that we added major investments for children, seniors, low-income workers and other vulnerable Canadians. These investments have considerably reduced poverty and vastly improved people's lives.

To date, our government has invested $22 billion toward eradicating poverty for all Canadians. We are making solid progress with programs like the Canada child benefit, more generous benefits for seniors, early learning and child care, and housing, investments, I will note, that were, unfortunately, all opposed by our friends in the New Democratic Party. By 2019, these investments will have helped lift more than 650,000 Canadians out of poverty.

This week, we kept one of our promises by introducing Bill C-87, an act respecting the reduction of poverty. It is an integral part of Canada's first poverty reduction strategy as announced by my colleague, the minister, this past summer. This bill will implement three key elements that demonstrate our government's commitment to being a global leader and a progressive partner in the fight against poverty.

We are going to establish concrete poverty reduction targets that will help Canada achieve its lowest levels of poverty in history within a decade. We are going to establish Canada's first-ever official poverty line so that the fight against poverty can be guided by statistics and data instead of partisan ideology, and we are going to appoint a national advisory council on poverty through our open, transparent and merit-based appointments process to ensure that people with lived experience have a voice in the decision-making process. The council will also provide annual reports telling the government and Canadians how we are progressing. These are critical tools, because our government understands that poverty is a complex issue requiring a multi-faceted approach.

We recognize that other levels of government have an essential role to play. Working with them is crucial. I am sure the progressive measures that bring all the activities and all the players in my party together will rally those concerned about poverty in Canada and produce tangible results.

November 7th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Katherine Scott Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to address you today on the budget implementation act. My name is Katherine Scott, and I'm a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives here in Ottawa.

Bill C-86 marks an important milestone for Canada with the introduction of part 1 of Canada's first poverty reduction act, followed quickly this week by Bill C-87 yesterday, as well as three other pieces of legislation enshrining the principle of gender equality and efforts to advance gender equality through policy and program.

These bills have been a long time coming. The call for proactive pay equity legislation reaches back decades. It's been a recommendation in the CCPA's alternative federal budget for many years. With this bill, federally regulated employers will be required to create proactive pay equity plans that will help to chip away at Canada's stubbornly high gender pay gap and to uphold women's right to equal pay for work of equal value.

The Canadian gender budgeting act will require governments of the day to assess and report on the impact of all new budget measures, including proposed revenue generation and program expenditures using a gender and diversity lens.

The new department for women and gender equality will ensure that the federal government is actively engaged in both supporting women's rights and gender equality through its own policy and research and providing much-needed support to government agencies and civil society organizations working in communities across the country.

These are foundational pieces for a more inclusive, a more just, and a more prosperous country. At a time when there is a mounting backlash against women's rights, these efforts are significant and important to ensure that, as the preamble to the proposed legislation for the new department attests, all have the opportunity equal with others “to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have”.

The provisions for gender-based budgeting are also essential in modernizing Canada's processes for policy and program development. Around the world, gender budgeting is recognized as key to generating the evidence necessary to inform policy and programs that successfully deliver on their stated goals and contribute to broader societal well-being. The new act provides a vehicle for strengthening accountability and transparency, both key characteristics of effective public policy.

It's one thing to know, for example, that a measure like the employee stock option costs Canadians $755 million a year in forgone revenue. It's another thing to know that 77% of those benefits are claimed by men. The partial exclusion of capital gains delivers 75% of its benefits to men at an enormous cost to the government of $6.6 billion. These policies effectively amplify existing gender disparity in the labour market. A gender analysis poses fundamental questions. Are these tax expenditures effective in achieving their stated goals? Are they just? Could Canadian tax dollars be better spent elsewhere?

The work of the new department and those charged with carrying out GBA+ analysis will require sufficient resources to ensure the positive impact of this work. This will include mechanisms for meaningful engagement with and support for women's rights and gender equality-seeking groups. We have recommended an annual budgetary target of $100 million for the new department in the alternative federal budget.

So too does the new pay equity act hinge on the resourcing available for the new commissioner for training, education, compliance and enforcement.

We fully endorse and support the recommendations of the pay equity coalition with respect to proposed reforms, enshrining existing human rights protections, and the call for a robust mechanism for pay transparency. Without these actions, the proposed pay equity model risks becoming a variant of “comply and explain”, an approach that's met with precious little success in encouraging gender parity on corporate boards.

The issue of resources is also fundamental to the potential success of the new poverty reduction act. The act outlines specific targets for reducing poverty as measured against an official poverty line, and establishes a framework and a process for reporting on progress to both houses of Parliament.

At the same time, the act does not include any new investment in the programs that are needed to achieve the strategy's goals. Indeed, Canada's new plan is really more of a framework than a strategy to accelerate poverty reduction. A strategy implies that we have a plan to get from where we are to where we want to go, and crucially, the resources to back it up. On this score, low-income Canadians are still waiting.

With urgent need across Canada, an effective poverty reduction plan requires more ambitious targets and timelines and greater investments in programs such as universal child care, national pharmacare, training and education for marginalized workers, and the like.

Finally, I would like to commend the government for the amendment to the Income Tax Act taking up recommendation 3 of the consultation panel on the political activities of charities. This is a very important amendment, and we hope that the forthcoming guidelines coming from CRA will uphold the letter and the spirit of the bill's proposed amendments.

Thank you again very much for your kind attention.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

November 6th, 2018 / 8 p.m.
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Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, when I introduced Bill C-245, the Liberals opposed it and said they would do better. Now, with Bill C-87, they have not done better, they have done worse. Even so, I will support it because, really, who would vote against it?

The problem with Bill C-87 is that we still do not get a definition of poverty in Canada. It does not add poverty to the prohibited grounds for discrimination. This bill is silent on the importance of collaboration, of partnerships with cities, provinces and territories. When we did our study on poverty, every community across the country that testified before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities told us to work together. That should have been in the bill.

I think this bill is lacking in far too many respects.

HousingAdjournment Proceedings

November 6th, 2018 / 7:55 p.m.
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Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Madam Speaker, my colleague's question could not have come at a better time. As she mentioned, this morning our government tabled Bill C-87, which is Canada's first-ever poverty reduction strategy.

Bill C-87 is the first poverty reduction strategy bill in Canadian history. Today, we have taken a huge step toward making that vision a reality.

I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, for giving me an opportunity to make that point again.

Opportunity for all is Canada's first poverty reduction strategy and it is the reason we now have Bill C-87. Since our election in the fall of 2015, we have shown our determination to be a full partner in the fight against poverty. We have been doing what we said we would do in our campaign platform.

Our government has consulted those Canadians impacted by poverty as well as those working on the front lines every day to ease their burdens, including people with lived experience. We have consulted with experts, academics, and our provincial, territorial and indigenous partners.

Canada's first poverty reduction strategy introduces three key elements that will guide our action against poverty. Those are: Canada's first official measure of poverty, a consistent line across the country; concrete poverty reduction targets; and, of course, a new national advisory council on poverty to make sure governments achieve these targets. I also want to highlight the fact that we will establish measurable targets for the reduction of poverty. We now have an official measure of poverty.

The opportunity for all strategy represents a concerted, coordinated fight against poverty on multiple fronts. It is our strategy for making sure that wherever one lives, wherever one comes from, one has a real chance of success in this country. The strategy reunites all of our concrete actions to reduce poverty in Canada since taking office.

The opportunity for all strategy is the Canada child benefit. It is more generous benefits for seniors. It is our first ever national housing strategy. It is the Canada workers benefit. It is also the historic framework for early learning and child care.

The member opposite said that she was disappointed we did not announce spending measures today. We do that during a budget, not during a regular tabling of bills. Let me assure the member opposite that the $40-billion national housing strategy, which kicks into full gear in the months and days to come, is that spending which will have a direct impact on reducing poverty. When the Canada housing benefit arrives in people's homes and helps pay the rent, that too will reduce poverty levels in this country substantially, for 650,000 people by the end of this term with more to come.

We are working hard to reduce poverty. We hope that we get the support of the NDP to achieve the goals we have set out today.

November 6th, 2018 / 3:55 p.m.
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Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Earlier today, Minister Duclos tabled Bill C-87, an act respecting the reduction of poverty. As this act is enacted through division 21 in part 4 of this budget implementation act, I want to know how it builds upon the actions that the government has already taken to address this critical issue. It's something that's very important not only in my riding but right across the country.

Poverty Reduction ActRoutine Proceedings

November 6th, 2018 / 10:05 a.m.
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Québec Québec


Jean-Yves Duclos LiberalMinister of Families

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-87, An Act respecting the reduction of poverty.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)