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TORONTO, Nov. 17 /CNW/ - Campaign 2000, a cross-Canada coalition of morethan 120 organizations, is sending this letter to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May, urging the to keep the interests of children and families at the forefront of their agenda as they prepare for the new session of Parliament.

Below is an open letter we are sending to the Right Hon. Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada.

 


Campaign 2000 asks PM Harper to keep interests of children on the agenda                       for fall session of Parliament

                  - An Open Letter to Prime Minister Harper
                              November 17, 2008
                             From Campaign 2000
       (Laurel Rothman and Members of Campaign 2000 Steering Committee)

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Dear Mr. Harper:
 
As you prepare for a new session of Parliament, we are writing to urge you to keep the interests of children and their families at the forefront of the agenda. Campaign 2000 is a broad, non-partisan coalition that represents hundreds of thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Campaign 2000 will want to see concrete commitments to the reduction of child and family poverty and to the development of a system of early childhood education and care services in this next session. It's critical that the federal government takes the lead, because far too many children and their families still live in
poverty.

Campaign 2000 will be releasing our 2008 Report Card on Child and FamilyPoverty to the public on Nov. 21st, and we call on you to work with all levelsof government and civil society to adopt a comprehensive poverty reductio strategy. Without action from your government, the current economic downturn
means that poverty rates will increase.

A range of Canadians have agreed on what is needed to achieve a economically robust and socially inclusive Canada. Most agree that incom support programs, including an enhanced child benefit and strengthened Employment Insurance; early childhood education and care services; affordablehousing and good jobs are key elements of a poverty reduction strategy.Canadians are eagerly looking for leadership on these issues.(1) A overwhelming majority (92%) say that if other nations like the UK and Swedencan significantly reduce poverty, so can Canada. Three-quarters of Canadians (77%) say that the lack of affordable child care is a serious problem inCanada today and 83% think that governments have an important role to play insolving this problem.

We recognize that at this time the state of the economy is paramount an will dominate debate. While investments in physical infrastructure project will be an important component, we believe that public investments in th social infrastructure can and should be an equally important component inaddressing economic uncertainty. Social investments help stabilize markets and protect families from further hardship as consumption by Canadians account for 57% of the economy.(2) Investments in low and modest income families are particularly strategic because they use their money in local communities topay rent and purchase food as well as other necessities which help grow local economies.

It is more important than ever that our governments take the lead. We are counting on you and the leaders of the opposition parties to make sure that the needs of children and families are at the forefront when addressing the problems facing Canada.

    Sincerely,

    (signed)
    Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator, Campaign 2000

    Signed on behalf of members of Campaign 2000 Steering Committee (in
alphabetical order by last name):


     -  Sue Delanoy, Communities for Children, Sask.
    -  Jody Dellaire, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
    -  Sid Frankel, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
    -  Martha Friendly, Child Care Resource and Research Unit
    -  Randy Hatfield, Human Development Council, NB
    -  Wayne Helgason, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, MB
    -  Colin Hughes, Metro Toronto Campaign 2000/Children's Aid Society of
       Toronto
    -  John Kolkman, Edmonton Social Plannin Council  webiste: www.edmontonsoicalplanning.ca 
   -  Jacquie Maund, Ontario Campaign 2000
    -  Andrew Jackson, Canadian Labour Congress
    -  Adrienne Montani, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
    -  Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Public Interest Alberta
    -  Marvyn Novick, Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University
    -  Rob Rainer, National Anti Poverty Organization
    -  Pauline Raven, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Nova Scotia
    -  Simon Rosenblum, June Callwood Campaign Against Child Poverty
    -  Laurel Rothman, Campaign 2000 and Family Service Toronto
    -  Penelope Rowe, Community Services Council, Newfoundland and Labrador
    -  Helen Saravanamuttoo, Canadian Association of Social Workers
    -  Rebecca Siggner, Social Planning and Research Council, BC

    cc:
    The Hon. Stéphane Dion, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
    Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada
    Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Bloc Québécois
    Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party

    ----------------------------
    (1) Hennessy, T., & Yalnizyan, A. (October 2008). Ready for Leadership:
        Canadians' Perception of Poverty. Toronto, ON. Canadian Centre for
        Policy Alternatives.
    (2) Author's calculations. Statistics Canada, Provincial and Territorial
        Economics Accounts, data tables catalogue 13-018-x. Table 2