While politicians in both Canada and the United States seek public support for upcoming elections, the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW US) mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by calling upon politicians to take action that goes beyond partisan politics to eradicate poverty and uphold the most basic of human rights.
Eight years after both countries signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which included a commitment to halve extreme poverty by 2015, little progress has been made. In a 2007-08 UN report, Canada ranks 8th and the United States 17th among the 19 developed countries in terms of the human poverty index. In 2006 in the United States, the official poverty rate was 12% of the population, while in Canada 11% of the population was poor as defined by a low-income cutoff after tax.
“Given the wealth of both Canada and United States, these poverty rates are a disgrace. Even more worrisome is the growing gap in income inequality, which is creating a divided society between the haves and the have-nots,” states CASW President Veronica Marsman. “The public’s support for the eradication of poverty is evident in the number of national and international advocacy campaigns that have developed in recent years. Social workers are hopeful that the public will make politicians accountable and force them to include poverty eradication in their election platforms.”
Social workers, as the social safety net of many communities, have the unique training and education to work with individuals while they make efforts to become economically self-sufficient. It is one of the profession’s most notable accomplishments to work with those who are less fortunate and to provide them with the resources and support to right themselves,” notes NASW US President James Kelly. “We have the obligation, as the profession who advocates for those who are most vulnerable, to support campaigns to eradicate poverty and to challenge all politicians to make poverty eradication a priority in their work.”
Social workers take the position that, as a society, we all must fight poverty. To do so is to be true to our profession’s ethical responsibility. Social workers look forward to supporting political agendas that take strong action to combat poverty both nationally and internationally.
For more information:
Veronica Marsman, MSW, RSW
James Kelly, Ph.D., ACSW
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NASW is the largest association of social workers in the world, with nearly 150,000 members in 56 chapters throughout the United States and abroad.It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.