Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to take the floor today regarding a very special bill, a bill that clearly shows that our government has scored a bull’s-eye with its efforts to reduce poverty all across the country. I am of course speaking of Bill C-245.
First of all, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for having tabled this piece of legislation. She has worked hard and has shown leadership. Indeed, she shows that it is possible to have a shared vision, even if we do not sit on the same side of the House.
Bill C-245 would develop a national poverty reduction strategy in Canada. Such a strategy is perfectly consistent with our government’s intention to reduce poverty throughout the country. We have truly made this our key theme. It is even an integral part of the mandate of my colleague, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. Needless to say, we looked very favourably on the tabling of such a bill.
Like us, this bill wants to lift as many Canadians as possible out of poverty. It states that, among other things, a national poverty reduction strategy should take into account the factors that put some Canadians at higher-than-average risk of poverty. It also mentions the need to focus on the consequences of poverty for society at large. In addition, Bill C-245 aims to encourage everyone to get involved in poverty reduction. This is most welcome, for it is perfectly in line with the work we have already started.
Indeed, Employment and Social Development Canada is developing a poverty reduction strategy. Its ultimate goal is of course to reduce poverty, but it is also to make our society more inclusive. Whether we like it or not, poverty is everybody’s business, because everybody suffers its consequences. If every person can thrive and participate in the life of his or her community, all of society will be the winner for it.
To attain our goals, we are consulting all of our partners. Among other things I refer to the general public, community and not-for-profit organizations, academics, businesses, and of course those who have lived in poverty.
The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development recently appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, also known as HUMA. There, he tabled a discussion paper on poverty entitled, “Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy”. This document was drafted in the hopes that it would get Canadians talking about poverty reduction, and it will inform the development of our poverty reduction strategy.
We also just launched the tackling poverty together project, which will also help us in developing our strategy. As part of this project, the government will conduct case studies in six communities in order to obtain a regional perspective and a better understanding of poverty in communities in Canada. It will also allow us to hear directly from Canadians living in poverty and receive recommendations from organizations that deliver poverty reduction programs. As hon. members can see, we are working in a spirit of collaboration.
I want to point out that our strategy will support existing provincial and municipal poverty reduction strategies and harmonize with them. We are consulting our provincial and territorial counterparts and our other partners to ensure that we are getting this right.
Bill C-245 is in line with what we are doing. One of its goals is to take the needs of communities into account, particularly indigenous communities. That is what we are focusing on too, especially in terms of housing.
I will turn now to a second strategy we have implemented. The national housing strategy will enable us to improve the housing situation of all Canadians, including those in indigenous communities and the far north. We are currently holding targeted consultations with Canadians, governments, indigenous organizations, the private sector, non-profit organizations, municipalities, and housing experts. As everyone can see, our government is very active on this file.
We see the introduction of Bill C-245 as very encouraging. It proves that we are moving in the right direction. This is clearly the right time for Bill C-245.
At this point, I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the measures we have taken recently. Of course, we introduced the Canada child benefit, which will give nine out of ten families more benefits for children than they were receiving before. This new benefit will reduce child poverty by about 40%. The Canada child benefit is about more than just giving families more money. It represents the most important innovation in social policy in a generation.
Speaking of generations, my colleagues in the House will recall that we also enhanced the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors. For some people, this means an increase of up to almost $1,000 per year.
Lastly, we have also made massive investments in social infrastructure. More specifically, we will be making initial investments totalling $3.4 billion over five years.
We also reached an agreement with the provinces to enhance the Canada pension plan to address the fact that many Canadians might not be saving enough for their retirement and therefore face a greater risk of living in poverty in their old age. From a poverty reduction standpoint, enhancing the CPP is good news, because it will help low-income workers, now and in the long term.
Furthermore, although low-income earners will have to contribute to the enhanced CPP, these higher contributions will generally be more than offset by an increase in the working income tax benefit, which will help almost 6,000 Canadians escape poverty. Not only will the enhanced CPP ensure that the middle class in Canada enjoys a more secure retirement, but it will also help current and future efforts to reduce poverty.
All these measures I just spoke about reflect my personal determination as the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin and our collective determination as government to reduce social inequality and ensure the prosperity of all Canadians. The intent of Bill C-245 is closely aligned with our objectives and our actions.
I could continue, but I believe that everything I mentioned demonstrates that our government is taking the necessary steps to reduce poverty in Canada. The introduction of Bill C-245 by my colleague only proves beyond a doubt that we must continue in this direction.