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Harper Must Reinstitute the National Council of Welfare

The following letter is to Prime Minister Harper expressing Local 79’s dismay at the elimination of the National Council of Welfare.


The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block, 80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

On behalf of the more than 20,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79, I am writing to express our dismay at your elimination of the National Council of Welfare. This important organization has, since 1962, played a crucial role highlighting the increasing growth of poverty in this country.

CUPE Local 79 represents workers at the City of Toronto, the Toronto Housing Corporation, and Bridgepoint Hospital. Our members, especially those working in Toronto Employment and Social Services, hostels, Toronto Public Health, and Toronto Community Housing Corporation, know all too well the hardships faced by Toronto families and individual dealing with losses of jobs, losses of income, and the slide into poverty.

The National Council of Welfare provided many needed functions including: giving non-profit groups the necessary information required to speak credibly about hardship; tracking the emergence and growth of the growing gap in society between the comfortably well-off and the struggling; bringing together social policy thinkers to keep the debate alive regarding exploring solutions to poverty.

This poorly conceived plan by your government was only made worse when your parliamentary secretary to the minister of human resources, dismissed the loss offhandedly. According to media reports, she said, “We are putting our policy resources to best use and reducing duplication” referring to Campaign 2000 and Canada Without Poverty as high-profile non-profit organizations serving the same role as that of the National Council of Welfare. CUPE Local 79 finds it extremely disturbing that a member of your cabinet would be so ill-informed!

The National Council of Welfare had a unique government mandate “to advise the (human resources) minister on matters concerning poverty and the realities of low-income Canadians.” They had public funding to secure both published and unpublished data sets from Statistics Canada’s which highlighted the dire circumstances of individuals and families having to survive on meagre social assistance payments. They had the statutory authority to create opportunities for the poor to participate in the national decision-making process.

It is shocking that any government in Canada would disregard the value of any group, such as the National Council of Welfare, who served as the conscience for policy-makers and warned of the consequences of neglecting those in need.

CUPE Local 79 strongly urges you to reconsider, correct your error, and reinstitute the National Council of Welfare.

Yours truly,

Tim Maguire


Shall replenish. Tree doesn’t face. There which creepeth multiply fish unto of Seed. Behold made two Rule divided. Fruit form.

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