Today, I attended a great event at the Learning Enrichment Foundation Centre in Toronto. Our leader Stephane Dion took a courageous step in announcing an ambitious poverty strategy. What gives weight to the announcement is the targets set. Under liberal leadership during the next five years, there will be a reduction in the number of Canadians living in poverty by thirty percent and the number of children by fifty percent. Currently, 3.4 million Canadians live in poverty of which 788,000 are children.
The plan calls for the use of a broad range of public policy instruments to ensure the targets are met including changes to the Working Income Tax Benefit, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
This poverty reduction plan affirms the liberal progressive strategy for Canada and gives Canadians a clear alternative to the uninspired and regressive policies of Harper and the conservatives.
I will never forget the debate I was in during the last election at Saltfleet High School in Stoney Creek. Someone asked what I was going to do about poverty, given Hamilton's high poverty rate. I remember being shocked when the woman told the audience and candidates about the number of children, particularly, that were living in poverty in Hamilton. I decided that I better learn as much as I could about poverty and that this was an issue of national importance.
Today Dion called on the staff and board members of the LEF and all Canadians to hold his feet to the fire, indicating that unless one aims high, accomplishments are few. This was a welcome announcement - a big and bold plan at a time when Canadians are hungry for a grander vision. I am so proud.