Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow up on a question that I asked in the House some time ago. The question came about on the day that the food banks of Canada released their hunger count for 2010 showing that food bank usage in Canada was up 9%, which meant that over two years food bank usage was up by 28% overall. We are closing in on a million Canadians who use the food bank on a regular basis.
When I asked the question, I used a comparison because governments make choices. The comparison I used was that the government had very little interest or motivation to help those most in need. For example, it spent $8,704 on a power cord for the G8 summit, as part of the billion dollar boondoggle for the meeting that happened in June of last year. Those are the kind of choices that offend and insult Canadians.
Poverty has been increasing. This was evidenced not only by the hunger count that came out last November, and which comes out ever year, but also by a report from the Citizens for Public Justice and their partners, World Vision, which showed that in the last two years poverty in Canada has been on a steady increase. In fact, poverty has gone up from around 9.5% to 12% and child poverty has gone up from 9.7% to 12%. These are startling figures. This means that many Canadians, our neighbours, people that we see, are not making it and they are not enjoying the wealth that is Canada. The tragedy is that they received no benefit from the stimulus package.
It is a double whammy for the poorest people, for those who are in poverty and for those who are near poverty because not only did they get no benefit from the stimulus, but we can be sure as shootin' guaranteed that they will be the ones who will be victimized by the cuts to pay for the Conservative mismanagement of the economy.
I will give another comparison and a particularly startling one. Yesterday we had a report about some 80 members of the government caucus doing a blitz on Canada's economic action plan. This was a $6.5 million media campaign, paid for by the taxpayer, to promote the action plan on radio and TV. This was $6.5 million in a very short period of time to promote an action plan that was totally out of action but it could not find $7 million to fund KAIROS over five years. These are the kinds of things that offend Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
KAIROS is made up of Canada's leading church organizations, supported by radicals like Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mennonites and Evangelical Fellowship. It is ridiculous that the Conservatives make these choices and do nothing for those most in need but can at the same time spend money on those things that benefit them. That is not a good deal for Canadians and it does nothing for those who are the poorest. I would suggest that it is unconscionable and offensive.
My colleague who will answer this question is on the human resources committee. We have just completed a major study on poverty. We know the things we need to do to reduce poverty. We need to invest in early learning and child care in order to give every child an opportunity to learn. We need to invest in programs that will give people the opportunity to go on to post-secondary education.
However, whenever we raise these questions, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development insults Canadians by suggesting that any plan that calls for early learning and child care forces Canadians to have other people raise their children, ignoring the fact that some 70% of Canadians are two income families. She insults Canadians on the issue of employment insurance as well.
There is a growing movement in this country of people who are interested in fighting poverty. It includes everybody from faith groups to business organizations to labour organizations to provincial governments, six of which already have anti-poverty plans. What it does not include is the federal Government of Canada which has refused to have an anti-poverty plan and which told the United Nations, when it told Canada specifically that it should have an anti-poverty plan, no, that it was not its problem.
There are people who are falling behind, people who are way behind and people who need help. I think Canadians, by and large, want to help those who need assistance, and instead the government turns a blind eye. We need to have some assistance for those living in poverty and the government is standing by and doing nothing.