Reducing poverty

Nathalie Bernier, Chair of the Board of Directors, Centraide of Greater Montreal and Lili-Anna Pereša, C.Q President and Executive Director, Centraide of Greater Montreal.

Centraide of Greater Montreal is asking all political parties to describe the concrete measures they are putting forward to put an end to poverty and social exclusion.

In an article published in La Presse+ at the end of August, only one of the four party leaders succeeded in giving an accurate estimate of the percentage of Quebeckers living below the poverty line; a number which currently represents more than 11% of the province’s population (source: Institut de la statistique du Québec).

This shows the importance of why the fight against poverty must take up more space in our political leaders’ agendas. When over 1 out of 10 people face poverty every day, we have an urgent need to take true, concrete action—now.

Greater Montreal is particularly affected, as 21.3% of our population lives in poverty (source: Statistics Canada). Nearly 615,000 individuals – or 53% of all people living on a low income in Quebec – reside in the Greater Montreal area. Households of single mothers and newcomers particularly experience poverty. As a result, no fewer than 130,000 children and young people grow up dealing with incredible challenges. Although we are in a period of favourable economic conditions, we continue to have a high rate of poverty amongst workers. According to a study conducted by the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, in Greater Montreal, 40% of people living in poverty work. Having a job is no longer a ticket out of poverty.

In 2015, a CROP survey conducted for La Presse showed that the political dream of most Quebeckers is the elimination of poverty. In addition to being a social aspiration, this goal would be economically beneficial, as experts estimate that poverty costs Quebec over $15 billion a year (source: Centre d’étude sur la pauvreté et l’exclusion of the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale).

Can we really afford the luxury of continuing to ignore these issues that cause hundreds of thousands of people great isolation, despair and suffering?

Quebec can turn to many other countries for innovative practices to reduce poverty. We can even look to the federal government of Canada, which launched its new “Opportunity for All” strategy at the end of August and set the goals of reducing poverty in Canada by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. These ambitious targets can be met only if all three levels of government and civil society mobilize the necessary resources and energy to achieve them.

Centraide of Greater Montreal is committed to fighting poverty and social exclusion every day. Thanks to the support of tens of thousands of donors, companies, unions and institutions, we can implement innovative neighbourhood initiatives, effective community agencies, and concrete projects in which citizens living in poverty can become invested and engaged. We are working with all stakeholders who are doing everything in their power to give everyone the opportunity to live with dignity.

We are therefore asking all of Quebec’s political parties: If you form the next government, how will you drive this important agenda and realize Quebeckers’ dream to reduce poverty and social exclusion?

Nathalie Bernier

Chair of the Board of Directors, Centraide of Greater Montreal

Lili-Anna Pereša, C.Q.

President and Executive Director, Centraide of Greater Montreal

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