Citizens for Public Justice is a political advocacy group based in Ottawa taking a stance on social issues informed by a Christian/left/centre perspective. They have been around for some fifty years, recently producing a report read with much interest at suburban-poverty.com.
The Poverty Trends Scorecard Report analyses Canada’s social landscape. If you want to know who is in poverty, and where to start to respond, this is a smart, up-to-date document. The idea is that poverty is wrong because it does harm and we can do something about that harm. CPJ calls for a national poverty elimination strategy and the scorecard is designed to influence that. Reading it could make you angry.
CPJ’s Sarah Shepherd, Communications Coordinator for the agency, told suburban-poverty.com yesterday that, “If we could decrease poverty at the same rate we’ve decreased cigarette smoking, it would have been eliminated by now.” Isn’t that something? Two decades ago who could have imagined that cigarette smoking would have retreated the way it has?
Shepherd told us the Scorecard’s chart showing a rising general trend for poverty in Canada over the last thirty years was upsetting to see. “Much has changed since 1981,” she said. “When CD players hadn’t been invented, and only zero-point-five percent of households had a computer but the number in poverty in Canada is still stuck near ten percent.”
“Working-age individuals living alone can be seen as Canada’s forgotten poor with almost one-third of this group in poverty,” Shepherd continued. “They are the farthest below the poverty line: while just under one third of low-income people lived alone in 1981, this has increased to over half. Not coincidentally, this is the group whose government support has been cut back since the 1990s.”
CPJ and Shepherd are not all doom-and-gloom. She mentioned a particular development, the all-party panel discussion on Parliament Hill held in February this year. That discussion led to the establishment of the All-Party Anti-Poverty Caucus, which has over 40 members from the House of Commons and the Senate. That’s high level, high profile support. Hopefully their work will be informed by the content of the Scorecard. The Scorecard deserves to be read within the system, really by all Canadians, …and acted upon!
Poverty Scorecard Canada 2012 25 page .pdf file