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Assistance for Low-Income Canadians

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Statement made on 07 October 2010 by Senator Art Eggleton

Hon. Art Eggleton:

Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, the leader and I both answered questions about the In from the Margins report and the government's response to it. She cited a number of things the government is doing of which I am well aware and recognized yesterday.

However, the question that the committee had in its deliberations on this matter was not that money is being spent, but how the money is being spent and whether it is being spent in most effective way. That is not a criticism of the government. If anything, it is a criticism of all governments at all three levels, because we have built up a dysfunctional system. It is not reducing poverty or resolving the problem. We are putting a significant amount of money in, but we are not achieving the results. That was the finding of the committee.

I want to ask about one of the recommendations, number 5, which happens to be a favourite recommendation of Senator Segal. It reads:

The Committee recommends that the federal government publish a Green Paper by December 31 2010, to include the costs and benefits of current practices with respect to income supports and of options to reduce and eliminate poverty, including a basic annual income based on a negative income tax. . . .

Put aside for a moment the basic income program and the deadline of the end of this year, which would be impossible to meet at this point. However, the notion of a green paper that would look at the costs and benefits is interesting —a cost-benefit analysis of current practices with respect to income support and options to reduce and eliminate poverty. Would the honourable senator be willing to recommend that to cabinet?

Please click here to read the full text of the Senator's question


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