Justin Trudeau has made it clear that he's working for the middle class. Ed Broadbent writes that Trudeau should be working much harder to raise the prospects of the poor:
There was a time when reformers looked elsewhere. They said the real test for a progressive government is how it treats the poor. Winning an election by appeals to the middle class is one thing. But continuing with that emphasis while almost five million Canadians are in poverty is a betrayal of the democratic goal of equality. It’s a particular betrayal of poor Canadian children who have been promised equality of opportunity.
It was Broadbent who, in 1989, championed a resolution to reduce child poverty:
Back in 1989, three federal parties worked together to propose and pass a motion that I, as the leader of the federal NDP, moved to eliminate child poverty within a decade. We all thought that, with the right mix of policies at both the federal and provincial levels, this timeline was possible.
But, since then, the rate of child poverty has gone up -- from 15.8 per cent to 17.4 per cent. Now is the time to change that trajectory:
The government now has a chance to change directions. It is due to announce a Canadian poverty-reduction strategy within weeks. We should demand a pan-Canadian strategy to address the needs of the millions of Canadians living in poverty. And, unlike what happened in 1989, this should include specific benchmarks and timelines for child poverty so that subsequent governments can be held accountable. There should be an annual report to Parliament on its implementation.
The elements of a national strategy are clear. The attack on poverty, and eradication of child poverty specifically, must include concrete action on affordable housing, pharmacare, child care, tax reform, the minimum wage and precarious work.
The Scandinavian countries have done it. And we can, too. The true measure of a just society is how well we treat the so called least among us.