Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 28, 2005
Alternative Budget could 'end poverty'
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Canadian social policy groups are calling on the federal government to use its surplus to end poverty now.
"Ending poverty now is, for the first time, a possible and doable choice," said Centre for Policy Alternatives senior research economist Ellen Russell.
The AFB predicts an estimated $45 billion budget surplus over the next three years, money the AFB wants to direct into social transfers to the provinces, health care, child care, aboriginal peoples, agriculture, the environment, cities, infrastructure, culture, employment insurance, a living wage, disabilities, housing, foreign aid.
Policy Alternatives spokesman Toby Sanger said that for the first time, the federal government is "acknowledging there is a budget surplus."
Sanger noted that in the 10 years Policy Alternatives has put together the AFB, his group has had the "best fiscal forecasting record.
"It's time to restore social funding," he said, noting that since the government embarked on the tack of debt reduction and tax cuts, inequalities have increased and four million Canadians are living in poverty, including one million children.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is among the large coalition of anti-poverty, labour, social development, arts and religious organizations that contributed to the vision laid out in the AFB.
"It is encouraging to see the proposal advance a national day care strategy in Canada," said Bishop Blaise Morand.
"Early childhood care and education has been identified by Campaign 2000 as a building block for ending child poverty in Canada," said Morand, the head of the CCCB's Social Affairs Commission.
Morand noted that the AFB provides for a 12 per cent increase in international development assistance. "We fully support such an increase for poverty alleviation overseas.
"The response of Catholics and Canadians to tsunami relief efforts showed that Canadians are way ahead of their government on this question," Morand said.
"Ottawa could and should do much more. Mr. Goodale should show leadership in his budget in this area."