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Denise Vacon

on 5 August 2015

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Transcript of POVERTY

And the impact on women and children
Broken Promises
Let's not let another generation suffer
Often, children live in poverty because women do....
good politics
bad public policy
Child benefits are social programs that can be powerful tools to combat poverty and inequality. They not only help low-income families but also the middle class. The federal and provincial governments over the years have achieved considerable progress in strengthening the architecture of child benefits in Canada.

UNFORTUNATELY, the current federal government took an about-face on child benefits when it came into power in 2006. It imposed a series of programs intended to help not only low- and middle-income families --- the traditional target of child benefits --- but also affluent households that do not need help from government.
OF FEDERAL CHILD BENEFITS -- income payments on behalf of children, delivered in the form of cheques or income tax reductions --
Two fundamental and related purposes
Poverty Reduction

Parental Recognition
helps fill the gaps between the earning of low and modest-wage parents and their families' income needs.
views benefits as an important way for society to provide some financial compensation for the fact that parents bear expenses that childless households, at the same income level, do not.
Where has Canada landed?
Canadian Social Policy has a watershed year.
It launched a major restructural reform of federal child benefits replacing a mismatched trio that was inequitable, complicated and mostly incomprehensible to most.

The new program, was non-stigmatizing, inclusive, provided a stable and assured supplement, declined as incomes rose, what you saw was what you got (none taxable), and it paid the same to all families regardless of the source of that income, where they lived or their family type.
The provinces and territories also delivered child benefits, targeted to families on welfare.

This resulted in the inequitable situation where families on welfare received twice as much child benefits as the working poor.
Term coined to describe the fact that it was more rational in financial terms for a poor family to get, and stay, on welfare.

If families left welfare and worked for low wages, they would forfeit welfare-provided income and services (supplementary health, dental and drug care, subsidized housing, access to supports, etc) but also see their incomes reduced by income and payroll taxes and work related expenses such as clothing, transportation and child care.
In a rare act of cooperative federalism, Ottawa and the provinces and territories launched the
A restructured version that built on the same strengths as the latter program, reinvested welfare-embedded child benefits, and eliminated the distinction between child benefits for the working poor and the non-working poor.
RESULTS: reducing poverty, improving school test scores, decreasing aggression and maternal depression, and reducing hunger.
The current government wanted to put its own stamp on the system by boosting child payments for middle and high income voters and offering families cash INSTEAD of universal child-care services.
... placing greater weight on "parental recognition" for non-poor households.
So, where are we now?
While the federal government left the Canada Child Tax Benefit alone, in 2006, it reached into the past and resurrected 2 social policy zombies:

These delivered benefits to the upper income families and re-introduced inequities: benefits are taxable, families of different types with similar incomes get different amounts, child care benefit is not tied to childcare nor indexed for inflation.
Starting next year, will be introduced to correct an alleged inequity in the tax system. The "Family Tax Cut" will the allow higher-income spouse to , in effect, transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket - potentially yielding up to a maximum benefit of $2000.
And since then...
Current Child Benefit System
It's too complex; what you get is NOT what you keep; some is taxed, some isn't - it depends, treats families different by type, and in some cases helps a minority of well-off one earner families who don't need it.
Social Programs in Canada
Child Tax Benefit and UCCB
Employment Insurance
Social Assistance (Welfare)
Maternity Leave (1 year)
Guaranteed Income Supplement
Canada Pension Disability
Canada Pension Plan
Old Age Security (OAS)
Health Insurance
Pharmacare (seniors & low income earners)
Dental (to age 14)
Social Housing
The Universal Child Care Benefit (similar to the archaic Family Allowances)
Non-refundable Child Tax Credit
Family Income Splitting
In 2015, the UCCB program will expand. But, it remains poorly designed and the government will eliminate the non-refundable Child Tax Credit to help pay for the enriched UCCB.
Tightly Targeted
Estimates predict fewer than
of Canadian households will benefit
A look at the numbers...
Food Bank Solution
Contributes to the problem of poverty and shifts responsibility back on the community...
Our Local Numbers
Canadian rate: 17%
Yarmouth County
Advocacy for Universal Childcare continues.
Canada has never had a national early childhood education and childcare (ECEC) program or policy.

We made a very modest start in 2005, when a Liberal government tabled the national Foundations program.

At that time, all provinces/territories developed action plans and agreed to proceed with support from federal funding. However, the following year, the newly elected Conservative government cancelled the bi-lateral agreements that were the basis of the evolving program.
A good home is a fundamental requirement for a healthy life, and a critical component of a comprehensive economic policy.
Wellesley Institute, Precarious Housing in Canada, 2010
ECEC is a public good, a human right and part of building the equal, just Canada we value. Young children are citizens in their own right, entitled to a fair share of society’s resources, including appropriate high quality ECEC programs provided as a public good, not a commodity.
Video Clip
The shifts in housing and tax policy, particularly as they relate to affordable housing, over the past 30-40 years have resulted in a crisis in affordable housing in Canada.
Beginning in the 1930's, the Canadian government increased the housing supply through key programs investments, including
government insured mortgages,
direct investment in social housing,
tax incentives and subsidies for development of rental and co-op housing.

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) was created in 1946 to address post-war housing shortages.

These investments and supports ensured that well into the 1980's there was a decent supply of fairly affordable housing.

However, beginning in the 1980's the federal government began to draw down its investment -- the elimination of our national federal housing strategy began, culminating in the termination of spending on new affordable housing stock by the federal government in 1993.
RESULTS: Housing Affordability
The Funding Crunch
and the elimination of a Federal Housing Strategy
the percentage of tenant households in

Yarmouth County

Housing is connected
to everything!
It is physical design; it's community economic development; it's social development; it's important to health and educational outcomes; it's a poverty reduction tool, an investment, a wealth creator and a generator of economic development. It is both an individual and public good!
Subsidized Housing
"The inability of many individuals and families in Canada to obtain and pay for housing, and to maintain the housing they have, underlies much of the homelessness problem in Canada."

The State of Homelessness in Canada, 2014


Core Housing
For half of all renters, it is impossible to afford both nutritious food and maintain a basic standard of living which includes adequate, affordable and safe housing.

even exist in Yarmouth County?
Although it is generally accepted that while some dynamics are similar in both rural and urban areas (mental health, addiction, domestic violence, etc); homelessness looks different in rural communities. Often those in need rely on informal networks to couch surf or double up, they sleep rough in unsafe dwellings, seasonal "cottages" and recreational trailers during all seasons.
Impacting an estimated
or 2,280 households
Living in places not designed for human habitation: sidewalks, parks, forests, vacant buildings, cars, shacks, tents, etc.
Accessing emergency shelter services: overnight shelters, transition houses, youth shelters, etc.
Temporary - no prospect of being permanent: rentals like motels, hostels, rooming houses. Also jails, hospitals, treatment programs, etc.
Housings lacks security or stability. A single event, expense, or crisis is all it may take to lose housing.
Experiencing severe affordability problems: income is not sufficient to cover basic shelter and non-shelter costs.
Current State

Provincial Housing Strategies (e.g., A Housing Strategy for NS & Business Plan)

Frozen Federal investments (transfer payments)... holding the status quo - no new investments.

Rent Supplements, Repair and Emergency Grants, CMHC affordable housing projects.

Municipal Initiative: Safe, Warm, Dry Policies. Licensing of rental units. Affordable housing lens.

Advocacy for a National Housing Strategy!
Families who depend on
family of 4
poverty line - family of 4
In NS, total welfare incomes have remained flat since 1989 (in constant dollars).

Families are struggling with income gaps that fall well below the poverty line.

In 2013, welfare incomes for a lone parent family with one child was actually $700 per year lower than it was in 1989 (in constant dollars).
Silencing Science:
Funding to the National Council on Welfare was cut... one of their mandates was to track income rates and poverty.
housing units have NOT been built
Where it all lands...
More equal income distribution has been proven to be one of the best predictors of better overall health of a society.
Low income predisposes people to material and social deprivation.

The greater the deprivation, the less likely individuals and families are able to afford the basic prerequisites of health such as, food, clothing, and housing.
Video Clip:
26:45 - 30:08
Report card and opportunity
Video Clip:
32:20 - 35:18
Going to the hospital
Video Clip:
36:01 - 38:38
Video Clip:
39:39 42:15
Swimming Lessons
and Early Intervention
Family differences in income and education directly correlate with brain size.
a linear correlation with overall cortical surface area; especially for areas involved in language, reading, and executive functions.
also found to correlate to cortical surface area, although not as linear.

Each incremental increase in income led to increases in cortical surface area, but leveled off at higher income levels.
Parental education
Family Income
Nature Neuroscience May 2015
Income and education levels shape human development - more compelling support for the idea of alleviating childhood poverty.
Early Childhood Development
Is there any reason not to?
creating conditions where good policy is good politics
Gaining Traction in Canada
Guaranteed Livable Income
A solution to reinvesting our wealth for the benefit of human development.
“Canada’s welfare system is a box with a tight lid. Those in need must essentially first become destitute before they qualify for temporary assistance,” Don Drummond (TD Bank’s former chief economist, 2010)
Between 1974 and 1979, residents of a small Manitoba city were selected to be subjects in a project that ensured basic annual incomes for everyone. For five years, monthly cheques were delivered to the poorest residents of Dauphin, Man. – no strings attached.

And for five years, poverty was completely eliminated.

Dr. Evelyn Forget is the researcher at University of Manitoba credited for tracking down those 1,800 dusty boxes of Mincome raw data that sat forgotten for 30 years. In 2011, Forget released a paper distilling how Mincome positively affected people’s health using census data.

Can we afford to do any less?
The Child's Name is Today
We are guilty of many errors and faults
But our worst crime is abandoning the children,
Neglecting the fountain of life.
Many things can wait.
The child cannot.
Right now is the time bones are being formed,
Blood is being made, senses are being developed.
To the child we cannot answer, "Tomorrow",
The child's name is "TODAY".
Gabriela Mistral

8-year-old Isaiah is trying hard to grow up healthy, smart and well adjusted despite the odds stacked against him.

Isaiah knows he's been categorized as "less fortunate," and his short life has seen more than his share of social workers, food banks and police interventions.

His parents struggle to overcome a legacy of stereotypes, abuse and dysfunction. More than anything, they want Isaiah and his siblings to have access to opportunities they never had.
Video Clip:
One of the richest countries
Video Clip:
Food Bank
Basic standard of living
$17, 813
Social Assistance Benefits
Disability Benefits
Pension Benefits
Video Clip:
I grew up worse than my kids
Video Clip:
Met on the streets
Video clip:
17:08 - 20:47
Services and Supports
Video Clip
Out of the cycle
Full transcript