By Josh Brandon
Policy research can sometimes be a lonely occupation. It is easy to worry that the only people listening are the ones who already mostly agree with us about our important goals of reducing poverty, promoting a more equal society, while protecting the environment. It is encouraging to know we have 750 members across Manitoba who value the work do, read our reports, blogs and opinion pieces. Our supporters are a big part of what keeps us going. But, are we only preaching to the choir?
This week at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, we have had an especially rewarding week that demonstrated that the work we do is making a solid difference. On Saturday, Manitoba Jobs and Economy Minister, Theresa Oswald committed to raising EIA shelter benefits to 75 per cent median market rent. This is a milestone achievement for researchers and activists in Manitoba and will help thousands of Manitobans inch out of poverty. As our Manitoba director, Molly McCracken pointed out, the target of increasing the EIA shelter allowance to 75 per cent of median market rent was first put forward by CCPA Manitoba in 2012. This 75 percent target was reiterated a recommendation in the Hughes Commission Report on the death of Phoenix Sinclair, largely thanks to the testimony of former CCPA Manitoba director, Shauna MacKinnon.
On Wednesday, CCPA received a surprising endorsement from a most unlikely source: federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. According to CBC, Flaherty told reporters the government’s income splitting plan is not of overall benefit to society: “It benefits some parts of the Canadian population a lot. And other parts of the Canadian population virtually not at all.” Flaherty could well have been quoting from the CCPA report Income Splitting in Canada: Inequality by Design. Without the CCPA, it is improbable that the Conservatives would be considering backing away from a campaign promise to siphon $3 billion in tax revenues for the benefit of wealthy, traditional families with a stay at home parent.
During the month of January alone, CCPA had over 800 references in commercial and public media. Our media audience reached 10 million Canadians. Our evidence-based voice for a more equitable Canada is consistent, forceful and well-researched. We love talking to our members and supporters, but it is especially gratifying to find that the work we do is influencing the thinking of people in government and being reported on by the mainstream media. Now if only they would stop qualifying every reference to us with “the left-leaning” CCPA…
CCPA’s work could not happen without contributions of donors & members. If you support our research please donate today: policyalternatives.ca/join-or-renew
Josh Brandon is Housing and Community Development Researcher with CCPA Manitoba