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Activists in Charlottetown launch anti-poverty campaign



Anti-poverty activists poured out on Kent Street recently to demand an end to poverty in Canada.

The activists were distributing paper bags with the words “Chew on this!” written on them. According to the activist website, “chew on this is a national campaign to raise awareness of food insecurity, and call for the implementation of an effective and comprehensive national anti-poverty plan to address the systemic issues poverty in Canada. Thousands of Canadians are demanding the federal government build on the first federal poverty reduction plan to eradicate poverty and hunger for the nearly 900,000 people in Canada who use food banks each month and for the millions of others struggling to get by. The Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy is the first step – but we need a plan that can end poverty in Canada.”

The Guardian reports that the bags contained a postcard to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as fridge magnets and Halloween candy.

The Charlottetown protesters said the Island has one of the chief rates of food insecurity in Canada. On P.E.I. alone, about 22 percent of children live in food insecure households. About 5.8 million people, or one in six in Canada, live in poverty.

Similar, thousands of people representing 100 groups across Canada marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty with protests all across the country, terming poverty a violation of human rights and calling on the Federal Government to take immediate action on this ongoing violation of human rights.

According to the release on the Canada Without Poverty Website, each month, over 850,000 people in Canada visit the food bank and one in eight families struggle daily to put food on the table. According to the latest data, over 16 percent of the population lives in poverty, roughly 5.8 million people in Canada.

Chew On This! events are held by 100 groups in 65 cities across the country. Volunteers hand out 25,000 campaign lunch bags which contain snack, a magnet, and a postcard to send to the federal government demanding stronger national action on poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness.

The activists are calling on the federal government to further develop the country’s first Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy (CPRS), which was released last August by making sure anti-poverty processes are fully-funded in Budget 2019, and that the plan is all-encompassing and based on human rights.

“We’re seeing more groups than any previous year participating in the campaign,” said Harriett McLachlan, Deputy Director of CWP. “That tells us that people across Canada – from lifetime anti-poverty activists to students to people who’ve experienced poverty first-hand – know that the CPRS in its current form cannot achieve an end to poverty.”

"Ending poverty in Canada must be a federal priority," said Joe Gunn, Executive Director of CPJ. "As shown in CPJ's Poverty Trends 2018 report, Canada's current poverty plan lacks essential pieces. This year's Chew On This events is telling the federal government that to truly end poverty, adequate funding and a multipronged approach is needed."