Common Front for Social Justice

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 9, 2008

Moncton - “The PC candidates in NB seem to take poverty with a grain  of salt” says Linda McCaustlin, co-chairperson of the Common Front  for Social Justice.

In the hope of bringing upfront the question of poverty during the present electoral campaign, the Common Front for Social Justice called upon all the federal election candidates to make their intentions known, asking them what they planned to do about poverty if they were elected.

Only two out of the ten PC candidates took the time to respond to our question which was straightforward. The question was as follows: "Should you be elected, would you support the implementation of a national strategy to eradicate poverty in Canada, as suggested by the National Council of Welfare?" Seven candidates from the Liberal Party, all 10 candidates from the NPD and 4 from the Green Party responded to our questionnaire. They all claim that if they were elected, they would support the implementation of a national strategy to eradicate poverty. The complete list of the candidates who have responded is presented in Annex A.

"We are extremely encouraged by the stand that these candidates have taken and we thank them for doing so. As far as the Conservative Party is concerned, it is clear by the silence of 8 of its 10 candidates, that it does not treat poverty as an important issue even though this problem touches thousands of individuals and their families and that approximately 16,000 children live in poverty in NB," added Ms. McCaustlin.

Should we not remind these candidates that social security is in danger in this province since the transfer payments from the Federal have been decreased by nearly 125 million dollars each year since 1996, forcing thousands of individuals and families to live under the poverty line?

Should we not remind these candidates that the minimum wage ($7.75 in NB) represents $16,120 per year which is well under the poverty line?

Should we not remind these candidates that 720,231 Canadians are forced to have recourse to the food banks each year so as not to die from hunger, especially in a country as rich as Canada? In NB, 16,347 people are frequent users of the food banks, of whom 31% are children (Hunger Count 2007).

Should we not remind these candidates that in 2004, 18.5% of the children in NB lived in poverty?

Should we not remind these candidates that we will all be facing a price increase in fuel to heat our homes this winter and that people living in poverty will be deeply affected by this? We have already lost one life last year because of this.

Should we not remind these candidates that during 2005-06, the Federal government has reduced its financial support to social programs by 1 billion dollars, while it put aside a surplus of 13.2 billion dollars?

Should we not  remind these candidates that Canada got a call down from the United Nations when its Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights confirmed in 2006 that the Canadian situation with regard to poverty was alarming. This  UN committee underlined  that social assistance corresponded to not quite half of the poverty line, that only 39% of the workers were entitled to employment insurance, that the minimum wage was lower than the poverty line, that 2.3 million citizens were suffering from financial insecurity, that 40% of the users of food banks were children and youth and that overall, 11% of the population lived in poverty in 2004.

What is most disturbing is the fact that a significant proportion of the candidates to the federal election treat poverty with such a lack of concern. Could it be a simple lack of interest or the fear of opening a can of worms?

--30--

For information - Linda McCaustlin -855-4076

 

Annex A

QUESTIONNAIRE ENVOYÉ AUX CANDIDATS ET CANDIDATES

QUESTIONNAIRE SENT TO CANDIDATES

Si vous êtres élu, supporteriez vous l’implantation d’une stratégie nationale afin de combattre la pauvreté au Canada tel qu’élaboré par le Conseil National du Bien-être Social?

If you are elected, would you support the implementation of a national strategy to fight poverty in Canada as elaborated by the National Council of welfare?

CANDIDAT-CANDIDATE

OUI-YES

NON-NO

PAS DE RÉPONSE-
NO ANSWER

Libéral

7

0

3

Paul Zed

St-Jean

X

 

 

Sally McGrath

Tobique-Mactaquac

X

 

 

Nancy MacIntosh

Nouveau-Brunswick Sud Est

X

 

 

Brian Murphy

Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe

 

 

X

Charles Hubbard

Miramichi

 

 

X

Jean Claude D’Amours

Madawaska Restigouche

 

 

X

Mark Wright

Fundy Royal

X

 

 

David Innes

Fredericton

X

 

 

Dominic Leblanc

Beauséjour

X

 

 

Odette Robichaud

Acadie-Bathurst

X