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Liberal MP Ken Dryden ready to put a stop to poverty
Karen Brownlee, Leader-Post
Poverty is not new in Canada, but Liberal MP Ken Dryden is hoping Canadians give his party a new chance to reduce the number of Canadians living in poverty.
He was in Regina on Friday to meet with local community organizations to hear about this city's experience with poverty as part of a cross-country tour. In November, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion unveiled the Liberal's "30-50 Plan to Reduce Poverty". Dryden's tour is attempting to raise awareness of the plan, which calls for a 30-per-cent reduction in the number of Canadians and a 50-per-cent reduction in the number of children living below the poverty line within the first five years after it forms government.
What Dryden says he heard from those in Regina is not unlike what he's heard in other cities. However, Dryden said how people are affected in Regina is changing.
"You hear mostly a common story and that those who are disproportionately poor are going to be single mothers, aboriginals, those with disabilities or illnesses, (and) new immigrants," said Dryden.
"What you hear a lot more now is in terms of the affect of the absence of affordable housing and homelessness. I heard it more here more than in the past."
Affordable housing would be central to the Liberal's fight against poverty, said Dryden, as would early learning and childcare as well as income supports for children, seniors and the working poor. He also said a one-size-fits-all solution will not work and each group of people disproportionately poor may need a different approach.
When asked why Canadians should trust the Liberal party to reduce poverty when it had 12 years in government to do so, but failed to makes the strides some in the anti-poverty movement hoped it would, Dryden acknowledges his party doesn't have a good record on the issue. "We didn't do as well as we would have wanted to do," he said.
"When I look across the country, I don't think I've seen any party, any government that has done well, federal or provincial. No matter which party it is, we haven't done well. The question is how do we do better now?"
Dryden believes setting targets is instrumental in achieving a better outcome now.
"Targets are necessary in anything that is really big otherwise all of us will find ways of denying, sliding, slipping, hiding, finessing, spinning, whatever," he said. "Continue to be visible with those targets because the more visible you are, the more you are on the line in terms of delivering on them."
Those targets and the timelines are some of what impressed Danielle Pass, executive director of the Rainbow Youth Centre. She attended to learn the details of the Liberal plan and appreciated that the meeting did not have a political tone.
"The basic idea is that we want to be in the position that all Canadians have the resources they need to meet their needs and taking some specific steps to combat poverty and to reduce levels of poverty is one way to get to that vision," said Pass.
"Poverty is about a lack of financial resources, but it also entails a lack of other resources. It might be a lack of supports or choices or skills. There's a lot of things involved, more than just being below a certain income level."
Pass said there wasn't enough time in the meeting to discuss what the Liberals can do while in opposition to take action against poverty and agreed with Dryden that it is the party that forms government, not the opposition, that has the most power to make a difference.
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