"The nice thing about human rights is that there is no half way about them. Either you defend them or you allow them to be violated. It demands the eradication of poverty and accepts nothing less." --Rebecca Harrison
On November 20, 2009, Rebecca was appointed as Poverty Elimination Critic in the Green Party of Canada's shadow cabinet.
"Rebecca Harrison is an indispensable part of our Green Team," said Green leader Elizabeth May. "I am very pleased to announce that she will be joining the Green Cabinet, helping to develop and enunciate the Green approach to the issue of poverty elimination," said Green Leader Elizabeth May. "We are thrilled to have such an inspired and articulate woman as a candidate in this important riding."
Green Party policies that will reduce poverty in Canada:
- Modify the Income Tax Act to enable income splitting;
- Reduce income taxes Create a universal access child care program in Canada;
- Accelerate the creation of workplace child care spaces Review pension plan regulations;
- Develop a National Home Care Policy;
- Require auditing of corporate pension plans;
- Develop a Youth Community and Environment Service Corps with thousands of federally funded youth jobs and tuition credits;
- Create a set of policies that prevent sickness by promoting good health Pass pay equity legislation;
- Establish specific job re-entry programs for women with children;
- Institute a basic income for people living with disabilities so that none live in poverty;
- Remove barriers hindering the recognition of valid professional credentials of immigrants;
- Remove taxes from the lowest income categories so that no taxes are paid by those below the poverty line (Canada’s Low Income Cut-off measure).
- Allow income assistance recipients to keep 100% of the wages they earn up to the Low Income Cut-off level to encourage people to get back into the job market.
- Offer people the mobility they need to find work, shelter and other necessities through free transit passes for those on income assistance.
- Extend maternity/paternity leave for new parents outside of EI to two years and one additional year for parents who pay into EI.
- Increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors by 25%.
- Top up the income support for single parents on welfare during the time they are attending school or job training programs.
- As a first step towards universal GLI, provide additional income support of $5000/year to adults currently receiving provincial welfare cheques. Through negotiations with each province, this modest income support payment will not be subject to clawback.
- Support the provision of stable, long-term financial support for persons with disabilities by means of a targeted Guaranteed Livable Income.
- Ensure financial assistance for low-income spouses and relatives who provide end-of-life care at home for patients who would otherwise need to be hospitalized or in institutional long-term care.
- Augment the government’s measurement of “progress” (our Gross Domestic Product-GDP) with a Genuine Progress Indicator, such as the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, that annually measures how well we are doing on quality of life indicators, including eliminating poverty (see the Green economy section).
- Develop a comprehensive plan to improve our social safety network so that it eliminates child poverty, modeling this plan on European countries’ programs that have the best track records in eliminating child poverty.
- Build new subsidized affordable homes: 20,000 new and 10,000 rehabilitated affordable units per year for the next ten years using capital grants and changes in tax and mortgage insurance regulations.
- Provide rent supplements or shelter assistance for an additional 40,000 low-income households per year, for ten years.
- Provide credit and loan guarantees to non-profit housing organizations and cooperatives for the building and restoration of quality, energy-efficient housing for seniors, people with special needs, and low-income families.
- Subsidize private developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in their housing projects.
- Extend provisions in the Income Tax Act to offer tax incentives to build affordable, healthy, energy-efficient, multi-unit rental housing and to include tax credits for gifts of lands, or of land and buildings, to community land trusts to provide affordable housing.
- Dedicate funding to the co-operative housing sector to enable more new affordable housing projects to proceed.
Before Rebecca became the Green Party candidate for Whitby-Oshawa, she was an activist advocating for a National Poverty Plan in Canada.
In 1989 the government of Canada made a promise to end child poverty by the year 2000. Here we are 2010 and poverty still affects 1 in 9 children in Canada (According to the Low Income Cut-Off). The promise has been broken. Only by implementing a National Poverty Plan can we hope to reduce and eventually eliminate poverty in Canada.
Now she has joined the Dignity for All campaign, which has also been endorsed by the Green Party of Canada.
Dignity for All is a multi-year, multi-partner, non-partisan campaign. This campaign’s vision is to make a poverty-free and more socially secure and cohesive Canada a reality by 2020. The conviction behind this campaign is that Canadians must respect and defend the right of every person to dignity and security.
Everyone has a role to play in building a poverty-free and more socially secure Canada – governments at all levels, businesses of all sizes and types, community and other civil society organizations, and individuals. The federal government, with its particular policymaking, legislative, taxation and redistributive powers, has an especially critical role. The Dignity for All Campaign is therefore aimed primarily to achieve federal action.
The campaign has three goals:
- A comprehensive, integrated federal plan for poverty elimination: Linked to and in support of current and future provincial and territorial poverty action plans, a federal plan for poverty elimination will provide a pan-Canadian blueprint for reducing and eventually eliminating poverty. The plan will inspire other efforts to combat poverty and to promote a fair and just society. It will require transparency and accountability by the federal government, with inclusion of robust indicators of low income, material deprivation and social exclusion. And it will be comprehensive in its approach, with measures concerning the following and other thematic areas:
- Income Security
- Food Security
- Housing Security
- Child Care and Early Childhood Development
- Education and Training
- Labour Standards
- Job Creation including a Green Jobs Strategy
- Unemployment Insurance
- Health Supports
- Particular supports for vulnerable populations
- A federal Act to eliminate poverty, promote social inclusion and strengthen social security: Inspired by similar legislation in other jurisdictions, this Act will ensure an ongoing federal role and responsibility for social development, while demonstrating a lasting federal commitment for leadership and for accountability to citizens for results.
- Sufficient federal revenue to invest in social security: In order to fulfill its role and responsibility to ensure social security, generally, and to combat poverty, specifically, the federal government must have sufficient revenue, or “fiscal capacity.” The Dignity for All Campaign will promote public understanding of the link between the taxes Canadians pay and the supports and services we benefit from as a result. The campaign will also advance policy proposals for sufficient and fair taxation.
Please go to their website, endorse the campaign, and tell your friends and family about it.