All political parties ignoring poverty: researchers

The political stripe of a government does not help people affected by poverty, according to researchers at the University of Windsor in Ontario.
Researcher Nazim Habibov said political ideologies haven't influenced government action on poverty reduction. (Dale Molnar/CBC News)

The political stripe of a government does not help people affected by poverty, according to researchers at the University of Windsor in Ontario.

Two social work professors in Windsor conducted a 10-year study on the effectiveness of government policies on poverty reduction.

The researchers found little improvement across all 10 provinces, regardless of which party was in power.  

Researcher Nazim Habibov studied the results of poverty reduction strategies for the period from 1996 to 2005 and said political ideologies didn't influence what actions were actually taken.

"We found over that ten year period, generally speaking, the effectiveness of that poverty rate reduction did decline, so basically what we're saying is that social safety net's weakened," said Habibov.

Barry Furlonger thinks governments should offer more tax breaks to the poor, if they want to get serious about reducing poverty. (Dale Molnar/CBC News)
Robert Weaver and Nazim Habibov looked at three areas: social assistance, worker compensation, and tax credit programs. They concluded that all parties either shifted to the right over the last decade, or they focused on alternative strategies, like job creation policy.

Whatever the reason, Barry Furlonger from Windsor's Downtown Mission said he didn't need a study to tell him what he has seen first-hand.

"The classic example of that is the Liberals criticizing Mr.[Mike] Harris when he made the big cuts to welfare and other programs for poor people and then when they got in, they didn't do a lot to change that," said Furlonger.

Even though the study focused on provincial parties, the professors said the message to federal election voters was 'vote for the platform, not the party.'

Furlonger suggested that if governments are really serious about helping the poor, they should be giving them significant tax breaks, like ones given to industry.

The Downtown Mission in Windsor, Ont., is serving more clients each year, not less, said Fowler. (CBC News)
"There [are] ways to do it that don't involve food banks," Furlonger said. "We should be out of business, not in business. We're doing what government should be doing."