OTTAWA, June 13, 2012 /CNW/ - While debate over Bill C-38, the federal government's omnibus budget implementation bill, wears on in the House of Commons this week, a coalition of national organizations is urging provincial governments to raise concerns about the impact the bill will have on vulnerable Canadians and provincial/territorial fiscal interests with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
In an open letter to the Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Finance, members of Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada state the provisions in Bill C-38 related to the increase in the of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and the new requirements for Employment Insurance (EI) recipients will hurt the people who can least afford it: low-income Canadians and their families. In addition, the group says provincial and territorial governments will bear the brunt of the financial costs of these changes through increased social assistance caseloads and costs.
The signatories encourage the finance ministers to call for the reversal of the changes and a national conversation on retirement security to ensure that provincial and territorial concerns are adequately addressed.
"The provisions related to retirement security and EI in Bill C-38 will have a disproportionate impact on poor Canadians and lead to significant new costs for the provinces," says Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice and co-lead of the Dignity for All campaign. "These decisions were made without any consultation. How will the provinces cope as more people are forced to turn to social assistance?"
The letter concludes by highlighting the need for a national poverty elimination strategy. "A federal anti-poverty strategy," says campaign co-founder Rob Rainer with the CWP Advocacy Network, "would ensure that legislative and policy reforms are examined to assess their impact on the quality of life for all Canadians. Without such a strategy, the shuffle of vulnerable people between levels of government will continue".
Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty-free Canada is a coalition of over 575 local and national organizations, 9000 individuals, and 154 Members of Parliament and Senators across party lines that are dedicated to realizing a poverty-free Canada.