After 36 days of campaigning and millions of dollars spent on political ads, Canadians have found themselves with an almost identical government to the one we were left with when Parliament adjourned five weeks ago.
So what does a re-elected Liberal minority government mean for those advocating on food insecurity and poverty?
Some important work will continue, and, as always, there are vital changes to advocate for.
Before the election, the federal government had signed funding agreements with eight provinces and territories to move toward a national $10 per day childcare program. This work will continue.
This is vital as women accounted for a higher percentage of pandemic job losses than men. Child care costs across Canada are astronomical, up to $21,000 per child per year. An affordable childcare system will not only make life more affordable for families but will also generate economic growth as more women return to work.
Employment Insurance reform
COVID underlined many of the deep flaws with the Employment Insurance (EI) program. The federal government recognizes this and has launched the first round of consultations to get Canadians’ input on how to improve EI.
It is imperative the government get this right. EI does not work for low-wage workers, who are less likely to get EI benefits and for whom the program does not provide enough income to cover even basic expenses.
Canada Disability Benefit
Before the election, the federal government introduced legislation on a benefit to put more money into the pockets of people with disabilities.
Around 2.7 million Canadians have a severe disability, and they are more likely to be unable to work and to live in poverty. Current federal and provincial income supports for people with disabilities are woefully inadequate. The government will launch consultations on the Canada Disability Benefit soon, and it is essential that it provide enough income to ensure no one with a disability lives in poverty.
Advocating for single, working-age adults
In the last few years, the federal government has created a Poverty Reduction Strategy and boosted income supports for children and seniors, taking 1.3 million Canadians out of poverty.
But there is still much more work to be done.
Most people living in poverty in Canada are adults aged 18 to 64. Nearly one-third of single, working-age adults have incomes under the poverty line, which is three times the national average. Yet this group gets much less support, and far too many rely on deplorably insufficient social assistance rates and low-wage work. Many of the people living in deepest poverty were not eligible for CERB or the Canada Recovery Benefit.
If the federal government wants to hit its target of a 50 per cent reduction in poverty by 2030, now is the time to provide real support for this group of people. While the last budget did make more low-wage workers eligible for the Canada Workers Benefit, it is insufficient and doesn’t support Canadians living in the deepest poverty.
Now that the election is over and the Liberal government has been re-elected, it’s time to get back to work on reducing poverty and food insecurity in Canada.
Community Food Centres Canada will be working with our partners on increasing support for working-age adults and other important issues to ensure election rhetoric turns into material gain for low-income communities. Sign up for updates so you don’t miss policy news and opportunities to take action.
Want to read more? See our analysis of the 2021 federal budget and what the Liberals promised to do in their platform.