Docs show panel wanted feds to make freedom from poverty ‘fundamental right’

OTTAWA — Newly released documents show the federal Liberals’ anti-poverty plan isn’t quite as bold as the experts they asked for advice hoped it would be.

A May 24 presentation from the panel noted the group of experts wanted the Liberals to recognize “freedom from poverty as a fundamental right” when the government finalized its poverty-reduction strategy.

Taking a human-rights approach, the panel said, should guide “the development of goals, targets and measurements” to reduce poverty nationwide, according to the documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The Liberals didn’t do that, leaving such language out of the anti-poverty law they introduced before Parliament broke for Christmas.

The presentation says the Liberals should aim to reduce poverty by 25 per cent over five years — the government chose 20 per cent in its legislation — and by 50 per cent over the next decade, which the Liberals accepted.

Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says the Liberals are committed to wrapping human rights into their anti-poverty and housing plans not just because it is the moral thing to do, but because it makes a major impact economically.

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