(Our first initiative, launched December 18, 2008)

Recession Relief Fund Declaration

With a recession under way, there will be an increased need for the essential services provided by the many front-line agencies serving Canada’s most vulnerable. The recession, however, has put the funding that allows these agencies to operate in jeopardy. Foundations and individuals, facing 30% plus hits to their equity portfolios, are cutting back on charitable giving. Similarly, corporations facing layoffs, decreasing profitability, and in many cases, fighting for survival, are cutting back on charitable giving and philanthropic sponsorships.

At the same time, it is anticipated that all levels of government, faced with deficits and declining tax bases, will cut spending. Government grants to social service agencies are not seen as core spending and are often the first things to be cut.

At a time of increased demand and decreased revenues, many agencies will be very hard pressed to maintain current service levels. Some agencies may be forced to lay off staff, cut programs, and even close their doors, creating greater crowding, demand and pressure on those agencies remaining. At the same time, more and more people will require help.

The result will be an increase in the number of homeless men, women, children and families. There will be overcrowding in shelters, deteriorating health conditions and increased mortality. Increasing levels of extreme poverty will lead to higher costs to the healthcare system, criminal justice system and remedial social services.

We call on the Federal Government to immediately create a Recession Relief Fund to:

×   Prevent spending cuts to public and private not for profit agencies serving vulnerable people including children, youth, families, immigrants, those who are homeless, un/under-employed, senior citizens, people who are disabled and those suffering from mental illness.

×   Increase in funding for all HRSDC (Human Resources and Social Development Canada) and settlement programs, including a doubling of the existing level of funding being provided through the HPI (Homeless Partnerships Initiatives) program, and extend programs current set to expire on March 31, 2009.

In addition, we call upon the Federal Government to invest a portion of proposed infrastructure spending on social infrastructure by implementing a fully funded National Housing Program.

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