Reducing Poverty in Canada

From October 2016 to May 2017, the House of Commons’ Human Resources Committee studied strategies to reduce poverty in Canada. Unfortunately, while their final report contains some valuable information (and some good recommendations) when it comes to the conditions of Canadians in poverty, current government actions are doing more to harm than to help.

One of the basic tenets of conservatism is that problems of government’s making are not solved through more government action.

Witness testimony before the committee found a growing list of government actions that impoverish people and widen the gap between rich and poor. They include:

– Regressive consumption taxes which disproportionately burden low-income people to fund complex “green” programs for the rich (i.e. Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax);

– Inflated electricity costs to subsidize the profits of well-connected, (so-called) “green energy” investors, crown corporations and bloated public utilities;

– Bureaucratic “red tape” that blocks or delays affordable housing construction;

– Tax rates that punish poor and disabled people for working;

– Rules forbidding aboriginals from owning homes;

– Rules forbidding those on social assistance from going back to school;

– Bailouts and corporate welfare.

These are the result of government action, not inaction.

If governments would stop holding them down, many of Canada’s poorest people could achieve their dreams of self-reliance and prosperity. It is time the government stood by their side, rather than in their way.

Our previous Conservative Government worked hard to provide the necessary policies to help Canadian families thrive. Policies like raising the personal exemption limit, lowering the tax burden, reducing harmful consumption taxes, and reducing the overall cost of the federal government (to 14.2% of GDP, the lowest in half a century) had a direct and profound impact on reducing the poverty rate to its lowest levels in recorded history. These are the facts:

– The basic needs poverty line declined to a record-low 4.2%, declining by a third.

– The low income cut-off fell to a record-low 8.8%. In fact, it dropped more under our previous Conservative Government than under any other Prime Minister in recorded history.

– Middle class incomes rose 11%.

– On average, federal income tax on families earning less than $30,000 dropped by more than 90%.

Real progress on poverty reduction is possible when governments adopt common sense policies that are people/family centered and business friendly–not ones that just benefit and further grow governments themselves.

Above all, Conservatives recognize that the best way out of poverty is a job and believe that work should always pay more than not working. Throwing money with no strings or metrics attached is not a solution. It breeds dependency, exacerbates and prolongs the cycle of poverty and robs people of their independence and dignity. Like the old adage says: “Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life.”

Our party’s dissenting report outlines 14 specific common sense recommendations to help fight poverty. If the Trudeau Government really wants to reduce poverty, it must recognize what actions governments can take to make a real, positive difference in lowering the poverty rate and helping those Canadians in need and when to get out of the way.