Budget shines a little light on poverty

Black community for long, represented among the poor in Canada

Egbert Gaye

Depending on whom you ask, the number of Canadians living in poverty ranges between 3 million to 4.5 million, which anyway you cut it is a damn shame given the accumulated wealth of this country.
And sadly, after eight years under the last Conservative government, poverty in Canada became more entrenched, further marginalizing groups such as indigenous people, single parents and racialized minorities, including the Black community, which has long been well-represented among the ranks of the poor in this country.
So on March 22 ,all eyes were on finance minister Bill Morneau as he delivered the first budget of the Justin Trudeau government, and the promise to begin the process of lifting a fair chunk of Canadians out of the scourge of poverty.
Armed with a massive tote bag of almost $305 billion in spending money, Morneau did his best to meet heightened expectations of those seeking an avenue out of the debilitating poverty that has consumed many families for generations.
With an estimated 1.3 million children caught in that cycle of poverty, Morneau made spending on families what has been described as his signature program by pumping about $23 billion on social programs described as “the most significant social policy innovation in a generation.”
With his eyes set on low income Canadians, Morneau says the objective is to lift 300,000 children out of the grasp of poverty. And will use the Canada Child Benefit to help fuel the way up for these families by increasing the amount they receive by almost $2,300 a year.
A household making $30,000 a year with a child under six-years-old can now expect a to get about $6,400 a year from the government.
There is also good news for students from low-income families who will see a 50% increase in the Canada Student Grant, bringing the amount they will receive to about $3,000 per year. About 250,000 students will benefit from this move.
The budget also holds news for close to one million seniors living alone and struggling to make ends meet by upping their Guaranteed Income Supplement by more than $900.
Adequate housing remains one of the biggest obstacles preventing Canadians from extricating themselves out of poverty. In recognizing that, Morneau says the government will double the amount it puts into the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s affordable housing initiative.
The aim, he says, is to help thousands of families to access affordable housing and position themselves to building better futures.
Morneau also moved to make things right with first nations by committing $8.4 billion over the next five years to help stabilize communities where the human toll of poverty is excruciating.
For these spending commitments to alleviate poverty and all other government nationwide commitments, the Liberal government is projecting a $29.4 billion deficit this year followed by another $29 billion debt the next year.