The Government of the Northwest Territories is now taking steps to address poverty in the territory through the development of an anti-poverty strategy.
In response to calls from a growing number of social organizations in February 2010 the government passed a motion to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy for the Northwest Territories. The government plans to produce a discussion paper and consult with residents on an anti-poverty strategy.
As part of this process, the No Place for Poverty Anti-Poverty workshop in October 2010 in Yellowknife brought together more than 80 social justice advocates, political leaders and people living in poverty to offer broad, community-based input to guide the design of a Northwest Territories Anti-Poverty Strategy. They have called on government, business, communities and non-government organizations to work in partnership from the community level to create a strategy based in legislation, to ensure long-term effort and accountability.
In June 2013 the government approved Building on the Strengths of Northerners: A Strategic Framework toward the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT. In December 2014 the Second Annual Northwest Territories Anti-Poverty Round Table was held in Yellowknife. Over 100 delegates from community organizations, Aboriginal and community governments, non-governmental organizations and NWT businesses gathered to identify key poverty reduction priorities. The input gathered at the Round Table was used to finalize a Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan. In 2014 the Government of the Northwest Territories Anti-Poverty Action Plan was released. This Territorial Action Plan builds on the 2013 strategic framework and outlines government commitments to address the needs of those in, or at risk of, poverty from 2014-2016. The government invested $7.8 million in poverty-reduction initiatives, providing an additional $4.4 million in the 2015 budget, including a $1.75 million food allowance increase for people receiving income assistance. Additionally, the Government of NWT Anti-Poverty Fund was established in 2014. This $500,000 fund was created to support community-based anti-poverty efforts in the NWT region.
The latest Annual Business Plan 2016-2017 further prioritizes lowering the cost of living through safe and affordable housing, solutions to address homelessness, food security, and universal and affordable childcare. However, no funding is currently attached to the plan.
- Children and family support
- Healthy living and reaching our potential
- Safe and affordable housing
- Sustainable communities
- Integrated continuum of services
- As of 2015, the NWT Government has spent $140 million on 16 different income assistance programs.
- On June 1, 2015 the minimum wage increased significantly to $12.50/hour – the second highest in Canada.
- The Government of NWT has increased school funding by 5% since 2011, bringing the total amount of funding for 2014-15 to $148 million.
The No Place for Poverty Coalition maintains that the NWT Government has yet to take significant actions in areas like building more affordable housing and creating affordable childcare programs.
For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.