News and Events

Cross-Canada Support for CERB Repayment Amnesty

People across Canada are supportive of a broad repayment amnesty for anyone living on low incomes, according to a Campaign 2000 petition presented to the House of Commons today.

The petition, signed by people living in nearly every jurisdiction in the country, called on the government to implement a repayment amnesty for all people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) whose incomes are below or just above the poverty line, and for all youth transitioning out of care, regardless of eligibility to receive the benefit.

“The CERB was not intended to be a poverty reduction tool, but that’s exactly what it did. The federal government should be applauded for taking quick action in a time of crisis and delivering this low-barrier benefit to people who needed it,” says Leila Sarangi, National Coordinator of Campaign 2000. “Not only is it cruel to ask for money back from those living on low incomes who took and used the benefit for what it was meant to be used for, but it goes against the government’s own goals to reduce poverty.” Read the full press release.

Two Actions to Take Now to Support a CERB Amnesty

Campaign 2000 and partners have been calling for a Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) repayment amnesty for anyone living below or near the Low Income Measure, and the call is gaining traction. With tax time upon us and the federal budget looming, it’s time to make sure this issue is front and centre.

One year in and it’s clear that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted already marginalized groups: im/migrants, racialized women, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, women and gender diverse people fleeing violence, youth transitioning out of care, low waged and precarious workers, people receiving social assistance.

The CERB was a lifeline for many. It helped people to isolate safely at home, to deal with rising costs of food, PPE, cleaning supplies, broadband/cell/computer access, rent and other kinds of necessities.  There was a lot of confusion about who was eligible for this benefit but the dominant message coming out of the government was apply anyway, we won’t leave anyone behind.

Now the federal government is saying that low-income folks who can’t prove their eligibility will have to pay back thousands of dollars that they just don’t have. Even after they were encouraged and, in the case of social assistance recipients, legislated, by government and social service workers to apply.

It is both immoral and impractical for the government to saddle people with this kind of long-term debt, and it flies in the face of a human rights approach to poverty reduction, as well as the vision for an intersectional feminist pandemic recovery.

You can help support the call for a CERB Repayment Amnesty in the following ways:

Click here to sign the E-Petition before April 23

Share your CERB Story through this form

Want to know more about the Campaign? Read our policy brief in English and in French.

Yukon, Saskatchewan, French Nat’l Report Cards Released

Today campaign partners in Saskatchewan and Yukon release new reports on child and family poverty. This is the first ever Campaign 2000-affiliated child poverty report released in the Yukon – thank you and congratulations to the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. 

The Yukon report found that in 2018, 10.9% of Yukoners were considered low income, but Yukoners most likely to be considered low income based on the Low Income Measure included Lone-parent families (22.1%) and Households living outside of the Whitehorse (14.5%). Read the full report, which includes 10 recommendations and several policy proposals to improve the health and wellness of children, youth, and families in the Yukon.

The Saskatchewan report reveals a provincial child poverty rate of 26.1%, well above the child poverty rate of 18.2% for Canada as a whole, and greater than all other provinces and territories with the exception of Manitoba and Nunavut. Children in lone parent families had a poverty rate of 59.9%.

Read the Saskatchewan 2020 Child and Family Report Card and Poverty Report Brief.

Read the Yukon 2020 Child and Family Report Card and the media release.

Also out today is the French 2020 National Report card

Federal Budget Consultations 2021

We are at a crossroads.  Effectiveness of the national poverty reduction strategy has stalled. Between 2015 and 2017 we experienced a 9.7 % decrease in the child poverty rate (Census Family Low Income Measure, After Tax); but progress had not continued.  By 2018 and there was deterioration in the child poverty rate in many provinces and territories and a growth of food insecurity to unanticipated levels.  Beyond this, significantly higher rates of Coronavirus infection in low income neighbourhoods, among racialized and Indigenous groups, and precarious essential workers, especially female workers – all of whom have higher poverty rates – has tragically laid bare the risks of poverty.  The federal government must take responsibility under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect the life, liberty, and security of the person and of all children living in Canada.  The federal government must now stop the continued subjection of so many of our children and families to the vulnerability inherent in poverty.

Today, Campaign 2000 submitted a suite of recommendations for a budget that truly creates an intersectional and feminist recovery plan that centres marginalized communities.

Included in the list of priorities are: 1. A CERB repayment amnesty for anyone living below or near the low income measure; 2. Extending the pandemic top-up to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for all children under 18, and removing barriers to access for people with irregular immigration status, as well as customary care, kinship and families outside of formal care arrangements; and 3. The creation of a parallel income benefit delivery system for marginalized people who are outside of the personal income tax system and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 

Read the full submission here.

The consultation process for the 2021 federal budget is open until February 19, 2021.   You can have your say by sending in your own submission or filling out the survey on the government website .

C2000 asks for CERB repayment amnesty for low-income families

Campaign 2000 calls on all federal leaders to take a stand in support of all low income people in Canada who have faced economic hardship before and during the pandemic by supporting a broad repayment amnesty for those who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but were later deemed ineligible.

“The federal government’s roll out of individual emergency income supports in March must be applauded,” says Leila Sarangi, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000. “This move no doubt was a lifeline for thousands of people living on low income. Now it’s time for the Prime Minister and all federal party leaders to decisively support a CERB repayment amnesty for anyone living in low income who received the benefit but who were found to be ineligible after the fact.”

Read the full press release.

Is Progress on Ending Child Poverty Stalling?

Today, Campaign 2000 releases its annual report on child and family poverty, Beyond the Pandemic: Rising Up for a Canada Free of Poverty. New findings show that prior to the pandemic, over 1,330,000 children in Canada lived in poverty, and the child poverty rate declined less than half a percentage point between 2017-2018 from 18.6% to 18.2%. Nearly 1 in 5 children continue to experience the harsh long-term consequences that poverty and discrimination have on social, mental and physical health and well-being.

Of concern, the report finds that child poverty rates grew in several provinces and territories, including Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, and remained relatively unchanged in Alberta, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.  The rates declined modestly in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Yukon and Northwest Territories.  Examining the role of the Canada Child Benefit, we find that it had an important impact in the year it was first introduced, but the deteriorating effect on child poverty rates suggests that this impact was front-ended and waning.  

Longstanding economic inequality and social and health inequalities have impacted the ability of many vulnerable families to weather the pandemic. Systemic discrimination, widespread precarious work, dismally inadequate social assistance rates, barriers to accessing government transfers, lack of available and affordable housing, childcare, medicare, and little movement towards true Reconciliation have left children and their families vulnerable to the negative health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and excluded from emergency responses.

With today’s report, Campaign 2000 releases a set of recommendations designed for the federal government to address longstanding inequities head on. Recommendations include emphasis on collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and organizations, targeted action to reduce poverty in communities marginalized by race, gender, ability and other equity dimensions with investments and policy reforms on income security, childcare, housing, youth, public health, decent work, and income inequality. These recommendations will ensure that all vulnerable families are included in short-term and long-term recovery efforts. Today’s report is launched alongside provincial and, for the first time ever, territorial report cards in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, highlighting that poverty is a national issue, impacting the lives of children and families from coast to coast to coast.

Select key Findings from the 2020 National Report Card, Beyond the Pandemic: Rising Up for a Canada Free of Poverty

  • Nearly 1 in 5 children lived in poverty (1,337,570 or 18.2%) in Canada in 2018.
  • The national child poverty rate declined by less than half a percentage point between 2017 to 2018, from 18.6% to 18.2%, representing 19,410 children fewer children in poverty.
  • Poverty rates increased between 2017 to 2018 in several jurisdictions: Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
  • The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) had a significant impact on child poverty rates the year it was implemented, but this lack of progress suggests that benefits were front-ended and short lived. In 2018, the CCB protected 662,080 from falling into poverty.
  • 1.2 million children were food insecure in 2017-2018, representing the highest number recorded since food insecurity monitoring began in Canada. The CCB has been shown to reduce severe food insecurity in families.
  • Well-designed government transfers can reduce poverty. In 2018, total government transfers reduced the child poverty rate from 33.1% to 18.2%, reflecting a difference of over one million fewer children living in poverty. But transfers alone are not enough.
  • Canada must aim to reduce poverty by 50% according to the CFLIM-AT calculated by taxfiler data by the year 2025 and must ensure the same rate of reduction for marginalized communities where prevalence is higher.
  • Pandemic recovery is dependent on the creation of a well-resourced, publicly funded universal childcare system, eliminating fee subsidy systems that create barriers to access for low-income families.
  • Access to adequate housing is key to maintaining public health. Substantial new investments are needed that meet the needs of diverse communities, and that fulfill the federal governments human rights obligations and gender-based plus (GBA+) commitments of the National Housing Strategy.
  • Now is the time to implement universal pharmacare with new legislation and an initial investment of a $3.5 billion annual pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories with the condition of providing universal public coverage of essential medicines, with a shift to full pharmacare over 5 years.
  • Economic fallout from the pandemic has affected already vulnerable workers and shone a light on abysmally poor labour standards. Canada must immediately implement $15/hr minimum wage; legislate paid sick days; lengthen the duration and improve access to emergency measures; strengthen the Employment Equity Act and attach Community Benefit Agreements; and reform Employment Insurance over the longer-term.

Click on the following links to read and download the new report cards as they become available.

Check out the provincial report cards on child poverty:

Fiscal update leaves some vulnerable families behind

TORONTO – The federal fall economic statement released yesterday provides some needed support for families hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It recognizes a myriad of ways in which vulnerable groups have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and subsequent emergency responses, which has shown us how clearly public health cannot be separated from a healthy economy. It calls for an intersectional, feminist and green recovery as the way to rebuild a new thriving future state in which no one is left behind.

Campaign 2000: End Child and Family poverty reacts to three areas in the fall economic statement:

Supports for Families

There are important new investments to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) – four tax-free payments of up to $1,200 for children under six available to families eligible for the CCB to be delivered in 2021. As well, quarterly payments of $300 will be paid for each child under the age of six who is receiving the Children’s Special Allowance.

Families with young children have experienced disproportionate job loss and these temporary measures will provide some needed relief. But CCB investments need to be permanent increases, and work to bring families with children up to the Census Family Low Income Measure, After Tax as a target. Families with middle years and older children as well as children with disabilities need extra supports. They are currently left out of this plan, as are those with precarious immigration status who still cannot access these benefits.

Additional funding and accountability measures through the Canada Social Transfer are required to similarly support single individuals, particularly those depending on social and disability assistance, which remains well below poverty the poverty line in every province and territory.

Early Learning and Child Care

The federal government’s two-step plan to create a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care begins with the creation of the Federal Secretariat and continues with the implementation of the plan in the upcoming federal budget. Recognizing the need for a Canada-wide system of childcare to support women’s re-entry into the labour market, there are commitments to fund a Federal Secretariat on Early Learning and Childcare with $20 million over five years as well as investments to sustain the existing Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare Secretariat. The $7.5 billion committed in 2016 and 2017 budgets over 11 years is proposed to become permanent instead of ending in 2027-2028 by providing $870 million per year and ongoing, starting in 2028-29. Of this amount, $210 million would support Indigenous early learning and child care programming.

Permanent funding with allocations for Indigenous early learning and child care programs are very important, but funding levels fall well below what is required. Child Care Now has advocated for a 2021-2022 budget allocation for early learning and child care of an additional $2 billion to address the impact of the pandemic and strengthen the sectors capacity to serve families. The $420 million allocated for training of early childhood educators is an important recognition of the essential nature of the workforce and its major contribution to quality service. It is critical that the work of the Early Learning Secretariat begins immediately so that implementation moves forward with the provinces and territories.

Homelessness

The fall economic statement reiterates the promise from the September Throne Speech to end chronic homelessness and invest $1 billion into the Rapid Housing Initiative through the Reaching Home Strategy to create 3,000 units across the country.

The definition of homelessness in this policy must be expanded to include the experiences of children and families experiencing homelessness including women, trans, gender non-conforming people fleeing violence, immigrants and refugees, Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit Peoples. There is currently no plan to ensure that that the Gender Based Plus (GBA+) commitments to allocate at a minimum 25% of resources through the National Housing Strategy are applied to the Rapid Housing Initiative, which would help women, gender diverse people and their dependents who are in immediate need. Targeted supports are required for communities over-represented in the homeless population, including youth with child welfare experience and Indigenous Peoples. Funding for wraparound supports to address complex needs and help people stay housed are also needed as part of this initiative.

Deeply affordable and safe housing is critical to build resilience against public health crises. It is also key to supporting an intersectional, feminist and green economy. Adequate housing is linked to job retention for marginalized women and low income families, and the development of new sustainable green supply can create decent work with community benefits agreements as we further our climate commitments.

For more information, please contact:

Leila Sarangi, National Coordinator, Campaign 2000
C: 647.393.1097
E: [email protected]

Download the media release here.

C2000’s 6 Principles to Guide Basic Income Design

The concept of Basic Income is front and centre once again in policy and advocacy circles, and interest in BI is gaining across the country. While critics and proponents of Basic Income alike discuss program design and financing options, few have spoken about principles that should guide the design of a Basic Income. If anti-poverty advocates aren’t clear on these principles, we are unlikely to get the basic income we want.

Basic Income must move and keep families out of poverty, and it must be supported by a web of accompanying policies to end discrimination and income inequity. In 2016, when Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot was being designed, Campaign 2000 developed 6 guiding principles which provide an anti-poverty framework through which to assess any BI program. These foundational principles are:

  • Poverty Eradication
  • Inclusive Access
  • Ongoing Targeted Supports
  • Strong Public Services
  • Ending Structural Inequities
  • Better Wages for Workers  

In order for BI to successfully accelerate the reduction in poverty, and ensure dignity for all who are living in low income, these principles must be considered foundational architecture in the design of any BI program.

Read C2000’s 6 Principles to Guide Basic Income Design

Basic Income 6 Principles

Note: These principles were originally published in a chapter which was part of a compendium released in October 2016 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario Office entitled, “Basic Income: Rethinking Social Policy.”, edited by Alex Himelfarb and Trish Hennessy. The full compendium can be found at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/basic-income.

2021 Pre-Budget Submission

On August 7, Campaign 2000 submitted its priorities for the 2021 federal budget, with a focus on a COVID recovery plan.  The submission states that experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare inequities, are amplifying inequality and bringing to light the inadequacies of our social and economic infrastructure to support families in crisis. The road to recovery must not lead us back to what we knew as ‘normal’. That status quo left far too many behind. We must use this opportunity to reimagine a just, equitable, inclusive society, which is both good for the economy and is the right thing to do. Eradicating poverty is undoubtedly essential to promoting Canada’s economic growth (Conference Board of Canada) while promoting population health, enhancing social cohesion and enabling fuller social and economic participation of all. To achieve this, we must invest in policies that equalize outcomes for families and children, including income benefits, Reconciliation, ELCC and housing for all.

Read the recommendations and full submission.

Groups call for CERB repayment amnesty

Campaign 2000, along with members of the National and Ontario Steering Committees and organizations from coast to coast to coast, calls for repayment amnesty for recipients of CERB living in low income. In order to avoid pushing people living in low income further into debt and further away from the tax system through which crucial government benefits are delivered, C2000 has provided specific recommendations on the federal government’s treatment of recipients of CERB who are living in low income and who have been deemed ineligible to receive the benefit.

The recommendations, submitted to both the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, call for a human-rights based approach towards all who have accessed emergency benefits in order to cover basic expenses at a time of heightened need. The recommendations call specifically for repayment amnesty based on annual total income and family size, and for an end to calls for penalization for anyone who received CERB and is deemed ineligible. Read the submission.