Ottawa urged to use surplus to help poor

Ottawa should funnel predicted multi-billion-dollar budget surpluses into helping Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet, an anti-poverty coalition said in a report.

OTTAWA — Ottawa should funnel predicted multi-billion-dollar budget surpluses into helping Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet, an anti-poverty coalition said in a report.

Campaign 2000 said while there has been a slight drop in the country’s child poverty rate since the 2008-2009 recession, 967,000 children and their families are still unable to fulfil their basic needs.

And more children lived in poverty in 2011 than in 1989, when the House of Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty by 2000.

Based on recent budget projections, the federal government “can afford to spend” on programs that would help prevent children from depending on food banks and homeless shelters, the group said.

“Money is not lacking,” the report read. “What may be lacking is political will to act and willingness to act on the evidence.”

Laurel Rothman, the group’s national co-ordinator, said there’s been a lack of federal leadership when it comes to “putting some important social and economic priorities at the top.”

“We know what needs to be done. This is a complex problem . . . but we know, we’ve got lots of reports from governments, non-government organizations, academics, lots of insights from people who have experienced poverty,” she said. “If we ignore the costs of poverty then we consider that a mismanagement of the economy for which we’re all going to pay in financial, social and emotional costs,” she added.

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