Poverty Should Top First Ministers' Agenda

    TORONTO, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - Reducing poverty should lead the agenda of
today's First Ministers' Meeting in Ottawa, says Campaign 2000, the national
non-partisan coalition working to end child and family poverty. In an open
letter, the coalition urged the First Ministers to use the meeting to take
initial steps toward creating a national Poverty Reduction Strategy with
targets and timetables.
    "A First Ministers' Meeting focused on the economy and labour force
requirements should take a hard look at the fact that almost 12% of Canadians
under 18 are living in poverty," said Ann Decter, Campaign 2000 National
Coordinator. "Meeting labour force needs means ensuring Canadian youth are
prepared for the working world, not left behind in poverty."
    Campaign 2000's letter tells the First Ministers that reducing poverty
and maintaining a strong social safety net are good for national economies.
Three of the five most economically competitive nations in the world have the
lowest child poverty rates and strong social safety nets.
    Employment Insurance coverage, on the table for the First Ministers,
should be part of the national Poverty Reduction Strategy. "This is a
self-funded program with huge surpluses that covers less than 40% of
unemployed Canadians," Ms. Decter explained. "The money is there, paid in by
people who can't collect when they need it. It's hard to see the fairness of
letting Canadians fall into poverty when they lose their jobs while money
deducted from their paycheques sits in a surplus account."
    Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Canadians believe
concrete government action can drastically reduce poverty. Momentum for
poverty reduction is growing across Canada, with plans adopted in Quebec and
Newfoundland & Labrador, and in development in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

    For the full text of the Open Letter, visit:

For further information:

For further information: Ann Decter, National Coordinator, Campaign
2000, (416) 595-9230 ext 228

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