.
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block, 80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, M.P.P
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Room 281
Queen's Park, Toronto, ON M7A 1A1


 

 

 

 

 

Dear Prime Minister and Premier,

Re: A Decent Living For All
March 2007

On February 26-27, over 600 leaders from across the Toronto Region met at the Toronto Summit 2007 to discuss key challenges facing our city, province, and country. One of the major topics at the Summit was the need for urgent action to address poverty. Specifically, leaders discussed the report of the Task Force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults – an unprecedented coalition of leaders from business, community agencies, labour unions, the public sector, and leading social policy institutions. The Task Force’s May 2006 report, Time for a Fair Deal, delivered a roadmap for modernizing income security in Canada. We are writing you today to urge your governments to follow that roadmap and take action to assist low-income working-age adults in lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.

In the last 40 years, Canada’s labour market has undergone profound changes, but these have not been matched by a modernization of our income security programs. As a result, far too many working-age adults are falling through the tattered safety net of the current system and not forming stable attachments to the labour market. Combating poverty is an issue of social justice, but it is also in the economic selfinterest of all Canadians: our nation’s prosperity depends on enabling all workers to participate in the economy and their communities to the fullest extent possible.

Time for a Fair Deal recommends that the federal government reform EI coverage to address the significant decline in coverage of the unemployed and to improve access to employment supports and training. It further recommends creating a working income tax benefit for low-income earners, increasing the National Child Benefit, and finally, providing and administering a national disability income support program for persons whose disabilities prevent them from ever entering the workforce. At the provincial level, the report recommends the implementation of an integrated child benefit platform for all low-income parents with children that pays benefits outside social assistance. The report also
recommends more effective enforcement of labour standards and basic health and dental coverage for low-income workers. These reforms would reduce the barriers to working-age adults leaving social assistance and entering the workforce. The report also recommends the establishment of an independent body to recommend periodic increases to minimum wage and to monitor their employment and economic effects.

We think that now is the time to act on these recommendations.

We have been pleased that the federal government is actively considering the implementation of a working income tax benefit and that Ontario has been similarly considering a child benefit platform. We strongly support the Fair Deal Coalition’s recommendation that now is the time to act on reform of income security. Canada’s most vulnerable adults and children deserve a better chance to realize a decent standard of living and the opportunity to escape poverty.

We urge your governments to work together to put in place the policies that can make that a reality.

Sincerely,
The Undersigned

cc: federal and provincial party leaders

Signatories:

J. Michael Adams
Charlie Baillie (President, Art Gallery of Ontario and Chancellor, Queen's University)
Derek Ballantyne (Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Community Housing Corporation)
Keith Banting (Professor, Queen's School of Policy Studies)
Ken Battle (President, The Caledon Institute of Social Policy)
W. Geoffrey Beattie (President, The Woodbridge Company Limited)
Avie Bennett (Chairman of the Board, McClelland & Stewart)
Jill Black (MISWAA Project Director, Consultant, J.E. Black & Company Ltd.)
Tim Brodhead (President and CEO, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation)
Mario J. Calla (Executive Director, COSTI Immigrant Services)
John M. Cassaday (President and CEO, Corus Entertainment Inc.)
Martin Connell (Co-Owner, ACE Bakery and Chair of the Toronto Community Foundation)
David Crombie (President and CEO, The Canadian Urban Institute)
Dominic D’Alessandro (President and CEO, Manulife Financial Corporation)
Hon. William Davis, Former Premier of Ontario)
Julia Deans (Executive Director, Toronto City Summit Alliance)
Mary Louise Dickson, Q.C (Partner, Dickson, MacGregor, Appell LLP)
Debbie Douglas (Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants)
Tim Draimin (Executive Director, Tides Canada Foundation
Don Drummond (Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, TD Bank Financial Group)
Dr. John Evans (Chair, MaRS Discovery District)
Maureen Fair (Interim Executive Director, St. Christopher House)
Tony Gagliano (Executive Chairman and CEO, St. Joseph Communications)
David Galloway (Chairman, Bank of Montreal)
Dr. Peter George (President and Vice-Chancellor, McMaster University)
Nathan Gilbert (Executive Director, Laidlaw Foundation)
Dr. Robert Gordon (President, Humber College)
Mary Jo Haddad (President and CEO, The Hospital for Sick Children)
Scott Haldane (President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Toronto)
Robert J. Harding (Chairman, Brookfield Asset Management Inc.)
Buzz Hargrove (National President, Canadian Auto Workers Union)
 Sandy Houston (President, George Cedric Metcalf Foundation)
Shirley Hoy (City Manager, City of Toronto)
Warren Jestin (Senior Vice-President & Chief Economist, Scotiabank Group)
Professor David Johnston (President, University of Waterloo)
David Kerr (Chairman, Falconbridge)
Karen Kuwahara (President, Nestle Purina Canada)
Frances Lankin (President and CEO, United Way of Greater Toronto)
Sheldon Levy (President and Vice Chancellor, Ryerson University)
Paul Lucas (President and CEO, GlaxoSmithKline Canada)
Bill MacKinnon (CEO and Senior Partner (KPMG LLP)
Michael MacMillan

Bahadur Madhani, C.M. (President, Equiprop Management Ltd) .
Dr. Judith Maxwell (Past President and Research Fellow, Canadian Policy Research Network)
Heather McGregor (Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Toronto
David Miller (Mayor, City of Toronto)
Kelley Myers (Family Service Association of Toronto)
[NOTE: Kelley Myers was inadvertently left off the original list of signatories; this list was later revised.]

Gail Nyberg (Executive Director,Daily Bread Food Bank Foundation of Toronto)
Ratna Omidvar (Executive Director, Maytree Foundation)
Charles E. Pascal (Executive Director, Atkinson Charitable Foundation)
David Pecaut (Chair, Toronto City Summit Alliance and Senior Partner, The Boston Consulting Group
Hon. David Peterson (Chairman, Cassels Brock LLP and Chancellor, University of Toronto)
Susan Pigott (Chief Executive Officer, St. Christopher House (on leave)
Courtney Pratt (Chairman, Stelco Inc.)
Hon. Bob Rae (Partner, Goodmans LLP and Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University)
Kenn Richard (Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services)
Anne Sado (President, George Brown College)
Gilles Séguin (Canadian Social Research Links)
John Stapleton (MISWAA Research Director and St. Christopher House Fellow)
Janice Gross Stein
George M. Thomson (Former Chair, Ontario Social Assistance Review Committee)
Dr. Joseph Wong (Founder & Chair, Yee Hong Community Wellness Foundation
Margaret Zeidler (President, Urbanspace Property Group)