With one week left before voters head to the polls, hundreds of people attended a consortium in Ottawa outlining how the country's political parties plan to address poverty.

"Poverty crushes people, it steals from their souls and there is often no way out for people who find themselves in poverty," said Michael Creek, whose past includes 14 years living in poverty.

In 2006, 9,000 people in Ottawa turned to a shelter for help. Across the country, more than three million Canadians -- including 760,000 children -- live below the poverty line. About 750,000 of those people also rely on a food bank for survival.

"That's not the Canada that I want - that's not the Canada that many of us want. That's not the Canada my grandfather fought for in World War I. We can do much better than that," anti-poverty activist Rob Rainer told CTV Ottawa.

Although all of the major political parties were invited to Monday night's talk, only the Conservatives did not attend.

"It's time to close the gap. We want to make sure there is no tax on the lowest earners so that's a very important aspect of this," said Jen Hunter, Ottawa Centre's Green Party candidate.

Gatineau's NDP candidate Fran�oise Boivin agreed: "You will see that with the NDP platform, our priority are people not corporation."

Liberal candidate Martha Hall Findlay said the Liberals will work harder to recognize foreign credentials in her party's efforts to battle poverty.

"We know that we need to have a much greater effort at recognizing foreign credentials and language facility," said Findlay.

In 1989, Canadian political leaders vowed to eradicate poverty by 2000. In the eight years that have passed since that deadline, advocates say we're no better off now than we were then.

"My plea to government is to start to address the issues of poverty and stop using band-aid solutions and stop arguing amongst yourselves. Get down to business and we can solve the problems of poverty," said Creek.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Jonathan Rotondo