Liberal Party of Canada response to Question 5

Question:  What plans do you have to combat poverty in Canada?

Question:  How would your party’s anti-poverty policies support The City of Calgary’s poverty reduction initiatives?

Answer:  The persistence of poverty across Canada remains an unmet challenge, robbing individuals of dignity and equal opportunity, and sapping productivity from the economy. Liberals believe that all Canadians deserve a high quality of life, and we have a plan to bring back fairness and to strengthen the heart of the Canadian economy.

For 10 years, Stephen Harper has been ignoring the people who do most of the heavy lifting in our economy. Those who work longer and longer hours for an ever shrinking piece of the pie, and less and less financial security.

Liberals have a multi-faceted plan to reduce poverty in Canada. A Liberal government will help those that need it most. We will introduce the Canada Child Benefit—which gives up to $533 tax-free each month per child. As an income-tested benefit, the Canada Child Benefit gradually phases out to ensure that it is targeted to the middle class and those working hard to join it. All families, with children, that have annual household incomes below $150,000 will receive more in monthly child benefit payments than under the current Conservative childcare benefit. We will also provide more help to lower-income Canadians. Instead of sending government cheques to millionaires, a Liberal government will use that money to lift 315,000 Canadian children out of poverty.

We know that income security is intimately linked with the quality of life and health in retirement, and middle class Canadians are increasingly feeling insecure about their senior years. That is why we will start working with the provinces to expand the Canada Pension Plan within three months of forming government, and restore the age of OAS/GIS eligibility to 65, putting an average of $13,000 annually into the pockets of the lowest income Canadians as they become seniors.

We will immediately increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for single, lower income seniors by ten percent, providing up to an additional $920 per year for Canada’s lowest income seniors. While current benefits generally ensure that couple families are able to stay out of poverty, more than one in four single seniors live in low-income, as defined by the international after-tax low-income measure. Our Liberal investment will reach $840 million by 2019 and benefit 1.25 million seniors, including 900,000 single women.

Further to this, we will develop a new measure for the cost of living faced by seniors: the Seniors Price Index. OAS and GIS will be indexed to this new, more accurate, and more generous measure, rather than to the Consumer Price Index that reflects the wider population. In periods when the Consumer Price Index grows faster than the Seniors Price Index, the traditional Consumer Price Index will be used.

We also recognize that the current Employment Insurance system is not working for those who need it, and we are committed to change that will ensure that the federal governments supports Canadians when they need it most. A Liberal government will be committed to ensuring those who need EI benefits can access them quickly and reliably. We will reduce the waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits to one week from two and end the higher 910-hour eligibility penalty for new workers and those re-entering the workforce, stopping the discrimination that makes it harder for some of Canada’s most precarious workers—including people who have left the workforce due to illness—from accessing the benefits that help them get back into the workforce. A Liberal government will be there for Canadians when they need it most.

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