RE: The Review of the Third Report of Canada at the Committee's
19th Session (November - December, 1998)|
SUBMISSIONS TO THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS BY THE CHARTER COMMITTEE ON POVERTY ISSUES (CCPI)
NOVEMBER 16, 1998
The Charter Committee on Poverty Issues (CCPI)
CANADA IN THE YEARS 1993-1998: AN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OVERVIEW
1. Since Canada last came before this Committee in 1993, the economy has emerged strongly from the recession of the early 1990's. The Canadian Government's recent Economic Statement provides a snapshot of just how well the economy has performed:
2. The Canadian government experienced a record deficit in the fiscal year 1992-93 but in the last fiscal year (1997-98) recorded a budget surplus of $3.5 billion dollars - the only country in the 'Group of 7' ("G-7") countries to do so.
3. Last year, the economy (GDP) grew strongly at a rate of 3.7%. In the period 1993-1997, growth averaged 1.7% which was the second highest of all G-7 countries.
4. Corporate profits have grown strongly since 1993, showing increases of more than 15% every year with the exception of 1996.
5. Indeed, the fiscal position of both levels of government in Canada has improved drastically; from an aggregate (federal-provincial) deficit of $66 billion in 1992-93 to a small surplus in 1997-98.
6. On the job side, employment growth in the '93-97 period averaged 1.7% -again the second highest in the G-7 after the United States.
7. Since 1993, the unemployment rate has fallen by three percentage points; from 11.2% to 8.2% currently. With the exception of the United Kingdom, no G-7 country has done better.
The Social Situation:
Deep Cuts in Social Spending
8. Despite the strong economic growth and a buoyant economy, the situation for people living in poverty and other vulnerable groups has been allowed to deteriorate drastically. Deficit reduction has been achieved at the expense of the most vulnerable groups. Both the government of Canada and the provincial governments have chosen social programs as the primary area in which spending would be slashed. In 1993 the Committee expressed a number of strong concerns:
- unacceptable levels of poverty, particularly among single mothers
- widespread reliance on food banks
- cuts to federal transfer payments
- inadequate social assistance rates
- surprisingly low expenditures on social housing
9. In all of these areas, governments in Canada have acted to make the situation significantly worse. There has not been one recommendation of this Committee which was acted upon, or one area of concern in which there has not been significant retrogression.
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