Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Cup of Coffee and a Few Ideas

We lose touch sometimes.

With friends. With ideas. And with certain realities that are just too easy to ignore.

Had coffee last week with a guy who I hadn’t seen in a over a year. He is a poverty advocate. He knows of what he speaks because he actually lives in poverty and has since suffering an injury on a job site many years ago.

He updated me on stuff I’d missed and suggested I read some reports as a lot of new ones had come out recently. I promised I would.

First up is Income Security for Working -Age Adults in Canada: Let’s consider the model under our nose.

Published last month, its author John Stapleton worked in government in the areas of social assistance policy and operations for 28 years. Now a Fellow at St. Christopher House Stapleton is connected with Massey College – U of T and was supported by the Metcalf Foundation.

In a few (164) words this is what Stapleton says:

*Beginning in 1929 an income security program for Canadian seniors evolved that has been pretty successful in alleviating poverty for this demographic group over the last forty years.

*A “program” for children (RESPs, Child Tax Benefits and now the Canada Learning Bond and Canada Education Savings Grant) is likewise evolving so that kids will be taken off welfare and we’ll be “on a hopeful course to ending child poverty”.

*By doing something like what has been done for seniors and kids a program for working age adults could be assembled that would have similar features – i.e., widely available federal benefits, extra help for people with low incomes, registered tax saving aspects and matching or separate contributions to reward individual savings.

*We ought to do it this way since restoring benefits to earlier levels is “politically unpopular” and a Guaranteed Annual Income - of which we hear more and more these days - is not “politically realistic” because of constitutional matters.

I'm getting caught up.

You can/should read this concise 19-page report at