On November 12, 2010 in its Speech from the Throne, the Government of Prince Edward Island announced its intent to address poverty, stating that “My government recognizes the need to put priority on addressing the needs of those Islanders facing the greatest challenges” and that “Early in the new year, my government will release a Poverty Reduction discussion paper that will begin the process, in consultation with Islanders, of examining further options to improve the well-being of Islanders who are vulnerable and in need.”
In May 2012 the provincial government released the Social Action Plan to Reduce Poverty. Although the direct cost of poverty for the Government of Prince Edward Island (PEI) has been calculated at almost $100 million per year (with additional indirect costs of $220 million), the government has not made additional commitments to ending poverty in the province since the expiry of its poverty plan in 2015.
- Support people to move out of poverty by strengthening their educational and economic opportunities and their participation in the labour force.
- Protect and enhance the standard of living and quality of life for those unable to participate in the labour force.
- The provincial government has been prompt with its progress reports, released one report annually since the introduction of the strategy in 2012. Information gathered in the first progress report was instrumental in adding a third goal to the strategy: to provide fair and equitable opportunities for Islanders to participate in and contribute to the cultural, economic and social environment of Prince Edward Island.
- Increases to the Department of Education spending
- The Catastrophic Drug Program ensures that low-income families do not exceed 3% of their annual income for prescription medications.
The provincial strategy has also been criticized for the lack of a clear human rights framework. According to the P.E.I. Working Group for a Livable Income (WGLI), addressing poverty in the province has relied too heavily on charity and “Band-Aid solutions” rather than focusing on policy and social justice. PEI should include a human rights focus and measurable targets and timelines in its strategy to create an effective guide to ending poverty in the province.
For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.