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  • BC has no poverty reduction plan

    We have one of the highest poverty rates in Canada, yet we are now the only province left with no poverty reduction plan!

    Why does BC need a plan?

    1. Despite being one of the wealthiest provinces in the country, 9.9% of the population, that’s 451,000 British Columbians, live in poverty
    2. Using the Market Basket Measure, which is a poverty line that reflects the actual cost of living, 13.3%
    3. BC’s child poverty rate is 1 in 5 (more in First Call’s Child Poverty Report Card)
    4. Most poor people are working, and about a third of BC’s poor children live in families where at least one parent has a full-time job
    5. In March 2014, nearly 100,000 people in BC used food banks, and 30% of them were children
    6. We are failing as a province, particularly in relation to health, inequality, housing, and our children
    7. Poverty reduction is a sound investment for our province, our communities and our neighbours

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Nunavut

    Nunavut is taking positive steps to address poverty and will soon be joining the provinces and territories that have already implemented poverty-reduction plans.

    On October 18, 2010 the Government of Nunavut announced the launch of a Nunavut-wide “public engagement process” that is to culminate in the territory’s first anti-poverty strategy.

    n 2012 the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) developed a poverty action plan called The Makimaniq Plan: A Shared Approach to Poverty Reduction. The Makimaniq Plan emphasizes Inuit values and working collaboratively to reduce poverty in the territory. In spring 2013 the Government of Nunavut passed Bill 59 – the Collaboration for Poverty Reduction Act. The Act reinforces the collaborative approach, mandating several accountability measures and addressing poverty funding for the territory. The territory is now in the process of putting together the Five Year Poverty Reduction Action Plan, which will specify targeted objectives for poverty reduction

    The Makimaniq Plan has received significant attention for its collaborative approach. During its early stages, the emphasis has remained on reaching out to communities and public engagement. The unique social and economic history surrounding poverty in Aboriginal communities is a contributing factor to this approach, as is the importance of community development. The government has asserted that the approach is meant to help restore self-reliance in Inuit communities. This approach has been met with approval and optimism in Nunavut and elsewhere. In fact, experts have suggested that other solutions for homelessness policy, programs and services aimed at Aboriginals should be as culturally sensitive and collaborative as in Nunavut. The government’s newest initiatives continue to emphasize this collaborative practice.

    Recently Nunavut has seen significant developments in areas like housing, food security and health. However, rates for housing need and household food security remain incredibly high. Many areas such as income, employment support and childcare are still in great need of improvement. A review of Nunavut’s social assistance, an assessment of its long-term care system, an inquest into its high suicide rates and the introduction of the Mental Health and Addictions Framework are all pending. Evaluations of these efforts and The Makimaniq Plan will offer extensive critical analysis helping to steer Nunavut towards further successes in the coming years.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Northwest Territories

    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. 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 Plan

    The core components of the framework offer:

    1. A clear vision for poverty reduction efforts in the NWT;
    2. Five key “pillars for action” – priority areas where the Government of NWT has pledged to play a leading role and where efforts will be focused in order to reduce poverty;
    3. Corresponding goals under each priority area that establish a focus for poverty reduction;
    4. An overview of current initiatives that relate to key priorities as well as opportunities for action; and
    5. A description of the roles and responsibilities of partners who want to make these outcomes a reality.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Yukon

    The Yukon Department of Health and Social Services released the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Strategy in December 2012. Its creation involved multiple government departments and non-government advocacy organizations, such as the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition and Yukon’s Status of Women Council. The strategy has three goals: reduce inequities (e.g. skill enhancement), improve access to services (e.g. education, health care, transportation), and fortify community vitality. The report proposes to direct social policies, services and programs to reduce poverty and foster social inclusion. However, a large portion of the report is dedicated to description of the extent of poverty, only vaguely listing goals that need to be achieved. Although the report is presented as an action plan, it is more of a descriptive document.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Prince Edward Island

    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. The plan was centred around two main goals: 1) to support people to move out of poverty by strengthening their educational and economic opportunities and their participation in the labour force, and 2) to 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.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Nova Scotia

    On December 13, 2007, An Act to Establish a Poverty Reduction Working Group was passed unanimously by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. A Poverty Reduction Working Group was then created to provide recommendations to the Government of Nova Scotia on the creation of a poverty reduction strategy. The Nova Scotia government released its Poverty Reduction Strategy on April 3, 2009, Preventing Poverty. Promoting Prosperity. Nova Scotia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

    The Plan

    “The vision for 2020: to break the cycle of poverty by creating opportunities for all Nova Scotians to participate in the prosperity of the province and enjoy a better standard of living.” The four main goals of the strategy are:

    1. Enable and reward work
    2. Improve supports for those in need
    3. Focus on our children
    4. Collaborate and coordinate

    To achieve these goals the plan includes the creation of a poverty reduction committee and coordinator to enhance collaboration and coordination, investments in training opportunities and housing, increases to income assistance, expansion of the Nova Scotia child benefit and the creation of more subsidized child-care spaces. To ensure accountability the Poverty Reduction Working Group is responsible for establishing benchmarks and measures and periodically reporting on the progress of the poverty-reduction strategy. The adoption of a poverty reduction strategy by the Nova Scotia government represents a step in the right direction. However, the plan needs targets to measure meaningful progress.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • New Brunswick

    In 2009, New Brunswick became the sixth province to adopt a poverty-reduction strategy, Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan. New Brunswick adopted the Economic and Social Inclusion Act, in 2010, to serve as the legislative framework to implement the plan and they established a new crown corporation, the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, to set targets and timelines and monitor progress. The corporation is governed by representatives of government, community, business and low-income persons and oversees the formation of community-level networks to create local poverty reduction plans. In 2016, New Brunswick announced the Tuition Access Bursary, which provides funding to post-secondary students from families with less than $60,000 annual income.

    In May 2014 ESIC created “Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan, 2014-2019.” Its vision is for all people of New Brunswick to be able to meet their basic needs and to live with dignity, security, and good health, while providing opportunities for employment, personal development and community engagement. The Economic and Social Inclusion Act requires the province to adopt a new plan every five years Unaccomplished goals from 2009 are continuing priorities in 2014. The new plan aims to reduce income poverty by 25% and deep income poverty by 50%. The cost of poverty in New Brunswick is estimated at $2 billion a year.

    The Plan

    The 2014 plan focuses on four pillars with 28 priority actions, some of these include:

    1. Community Empowerment
    • Support for community development
    • Communication and networking
    • Volunteerism
    1. Learning
    • Child and youth education
    • Adult education, training and preparation to work
    1. Economic Inclusion
    • Participation in the labour market
    • Business activity
    1. Social Inclusion
    • Food security
    • Housing
    • Transportation

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador

    The Newfoundland government has also been proactive in implementing a poverty reduction strategy. In 2006, after extensive community consultation, the Progressive Conservative Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, Reducing Poverty: An Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador, was passed unanimously, making Newfoundland and Labrador the second province in Canada to adopt a poverty reduction strategy.

    The Newfoundland case is particularly interesting from a BC perspective because BC and Newfoundland shared the unwelcome distinction of having the highest rates in Canada until the government of Newfoundland and Labrador chose to address it unlike the BC government.

    The Plan

    The central goal of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s commitment to poverty reduction is simple: to transform Newfoundland and Labrador from the Canadian province with the most poverty to the one with the least by 2014. Five specific goals were outlined in the 2006 Action Plan:

    1. Improve access to services for people with low income
    2. Develop a stronger social safety net?
    3. Improve earned incomes?
    4. Increase emphasis on the need for early childhood development
    5. Work toward having a better educated population

    Progress towards a stronger social safety net includes increased support for persons with disabilities, enhanced accessibility to the justice system, and further development of social housing. Newfoundland now provides among the highest social assistance benefit rates in the country and, in 2007, became the first province in Canada to index welfare rates to inflation.

    The province has demonstrated its commitment to reducing poverty by making significant investments in its poverty reduction strategy. Altogether, over 100 million was invested between 2006 and 2008. Criticized for its lack of child care support programs, the Newfoundland and Labrador Government implemented a 10-year Child Care Strategy – Caring for Our Future: Provincial Strategy for Quality, Sufficient and Affordable Child Care in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013.

    It Works!

    The incidence of low-income in the province decreased from 12% in 2004 to 7% in 2009, the latest date for which data are available. The depth of poverty, or average low-income gap, decreased from $5,500 in 2003 to $4,900 in 2007 and is now the lowest in the country.

    Newfoundland is now at the forefront for poverty reduction progress in Canada. Prior to 2006, Newfoundland and Labrador had the second highest poverty rate in Canada according to the most current progress report, its rate is now the second lowest.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Quebec

    Quebec has been one of the most progressive provinces so far taking action on poverty. It was the first province in the country to introduce a legislated poverty reduction strategy.

    A broad based provincial coalition of individuals and community organizations, the Collective for a Poverty Free Quebec, was vital to getting the law passed as they created a massive petition to support the government’s proposed law, and held public consultations throughout the process. As part of its National Strategy to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion, in 2002, the Government of Quebec unanimously passed an Act to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion. The law has been praised for its comprehensiveness and for defining poverty as more than just low income, including lack of “means, choices and power” as poverty indicators. In 2004, the Government of Quebec released its first 5-year action plan on poverty and in May 2010 released its second 2010-2015 action plan Quebec’s Combat Against Poverty.

    The Plan

    Quebec’s first plan wanted to reduce poverty in the province by half over 10 years, and achieve one of the lowest levels of poverty in the industrialized world by 2013. The plan included:

    1. Maintaining the Child Assistance and the Work Premium
    2. Introduction of a refundable Solidarity Tax Credit
    3. Investing in training and supporting access to employment
    4. Improving the disposable income of individuals on low incomes
    5. Supporting local and regional social initiatives
    6. Increasing access to social housing

    This is not just talk from the Quebec government. To achieve its goals Quebec’s plan came with a budget of close to $7 billion over five years, $1.3 billion of it in new investments. It offersed accountability through an annual report on its progress from the Minister of Employments office, and it has established an advisory committee.

    It Works!

    The poverty reduction strategy in Quebec has been a success. The proportion of people living on low incomes in Quebec has dropped from 12% in 2004 to 9.4% in 2009. Although Québec has considerably reduced its poverty rate over the last decade, the reduction has slowed in recent years. Québec showed a lot of promise with its Second Action Plan and with its third pillar, “Solidarity: A Precious Asset for Québec.” With its goal of balancing the 2015-2016 budget, the provincial government has focused on controlled spending this year. Due to these budget cuts, it is difficult to predict whether the Second Action Plan will end as strongly as it started.

    In particular, Quebec’s universal child care system returns $1.05 to its government for every $1 invested – and Ottawa recovers 44 cents, even with no direct investment. These returns continue to grow. More broadly, every public dollar invested in quality child care returns at least $2.54 to our overall economy. Investing in child care has a bigger job multiplier effect than any other sector.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Ontario

    During the provincial election in 2007, Make Poverty History in collaboration with other groups in the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction mounted a very successful campaign to get all provincial party leaders to support a poverty reduction plan.

    In December 2008, the Government of Ontario introduced the plan Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. On May 6, 2009 the Ontario legislature unanimously passed The Poverty Reduction Act, which commits successive provincial governments to act on poverty and provides measures to track progress over time. The strategy was created with significant input and collaboration from community groups and those living in poverty. In August 2014, the Ontario Government published its second poverty strategy entitled Realizing Our Potential. In the 2014 strategy, the government recommitted to its prior goal of reducing child poverty by 25%.

    The Plan

    1. Breaking The Cycle Of Poverty For Children And Youth
    • An increase in the Ontario Child Benefit (as indexed to inflation)
    • Increased health benefits for children and youth in low-income families
    • Improving access to full-day kindergarten
    1. Moving Towards Employment And Income Security, Particularly For Vulnerable Groups
    • Creation of jobs and skills programs for young people
    • Improvements in access to employment and skills training for vulnerable populations, including Aboriginals and persons with disabilities
    • A raise in minimum wage
    1. A Long Term Goal Of Ending Homelessness In Ontario
    • Improvements in supports for people with mental health and addiction issues including new investments
    • Increased investments in affordable housing and homelessness prevention
    • Improvements in support for off-reserve Aboriginal housing
    1. Using Evidence-Based Social Policy To Measure Success

    Progress to Date

    In the 2014 poverty plan, the Ontario Government reported that child poverty has decreased in Ontario. Based on the Low-Income Measure used by the Ontario Government, child poverty rates dropped from 15.2% in 2008 to 13.8% in 2011. Campaign 2000 uses a measure that marks child poverty as high as 19.9% in 2012. This measure results in a 9.2% decrease in child poverty between 2008 and 2011. According to some researchers, child poverty hit epidemic levels during the period covered by the first poverty strategy.

    Despite the decrease in child poverty, adult poverty rates have increased quicker in Ontario than in any other jurisdiction. Between 2007 and 2011, the overall poverty rate according to the Low-Income Cut-Off After-Tax (LICO-AT) increased slightly from 8.8% to 9.0%, peaking at 10.1% in 2009. More positively, food bank usage has been decreasing slightly since 2012, falling from 412,998 people per month in 2012, to 374,698 in 2014. However, since 2008, there has been a 19.6% increase in usage.The latest study estimates that the rate of household food insecurity in Ontario has remained relatively high at 11.7%.

    Combating poverty makes economic and financial sense: the cost of poverty in Ontario has been estimated at $38 billion per year in health and social assistance expenditures and foregone tax revenues. Beyond economics, the 2014 strategy opens the door to understanding poverty through the recognition of human rights obligations. The clearest evidence of this is the ultimate goal to end homelessness. At the end of 2015, Ontario released an updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy.

    A common concern shared among organizations – such as the 25 in 5 Network and the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition – is that while Ontario’s goals are commendable, the strategy lacks concrete targets and timelines as well as an investment strategy. The concern is that without action and measurable targets these goals cannot be reached.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Manitoba

    In 2009 Manitoba released its poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy, ALL Aboard. The strategy has focused on building partnerships with federal and municipal governments, community and nonprofit organizations, businesses, citizens, First Nations, and Métis. In June 2011, Manitoba passed the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, grounding ALL Aboard.

    Since ALL Aboard was introduced in 2009, there has been a 5.3% increase in the number of social and affordable housing units funded by Manitoba, an 8% increase in graduation rates, and a 5.5% increase in childcare availability. However, Manitoba’s poverty rate has recently increased, despite a downward trend over the past decade. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act recognizes that certain populations are at greater risk and requires the government to set indicators to measure progress. It also ensures that programs and initiatives are accessible to everyone. The Act requires an annual report and establishes the ALL Aboard Committee, whose responsibilities include reviewing and providing advice on the content of poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy, monitoring strategy implementation, and facilitating community involvement in the development and implementation of the strategy.

    Make Poverty History Manitoba (MPHM) believes that Manitoba can do better and urges the government to increase EIA rates closer to the MBM of poverty. MPHM stresses that people should be able to meet their basic needs and experience more social inclusion.

    Campaign 2000: To End Child and Family Poverty in Canada is critical of the Government of Manitoba, suggesting that the government is doing something wrong. More children are living in poverty, and Indigenous families are disproportionately living in poverty because of the political control on their lives. Campaign 2000 states that getting a job is not enough to cure poverty – living wage jobs, regular hours, benefits, and protections are needed.

    Finally, the provincial government has been criticized for using vague indicators and not including concrete goals to evaluate performance.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Saskatchewan

    In the wake of a large grass large grassroots movement towards developing a poverty strategy, Lieutenant Governor Schofield announced in his October 2014 Speech from the Throne that Saskatchewan would develop its first Poverty Reduction Strategy. Following the announcement, the Ministry of Social Services created and appointed the Saskatchewan Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction.  The 11-member group consists of five in-government officials and six community representatives from the health, labour, justice, education and social service sectors within Saskatchewan. The Advisory Group gathers input from community groups and the public regarding the province’s current policies and programs, and will provide recommendations to the government for a comprehensive plan.

    This past spring, the Advisory Group launched an online public consultation website where individuals, communities, governments and businesses were invited to provide feedback on how to address poverty. In April 2015, 100 representatives from over 60 organizations gathered in Saskatoon for a live poverty roundtable hosted by the Advisory Group. In August 2015, the Group released recommendations on income security, housing and homelessness, early childhood development, education and training, employment and health, and food security in order for the government to cut poverty rates in half within the next five years (2020).

    Prior to 2014, the government of Saskatchewan had suggested that their poverty program report (PPR) From Dependence to Independence Actions and Investments for Saskatchewan’s Most Vulnerable People was their provincial anti-poverty action plan. However, the report lacked features of a provincial strategy including community engagement, clear goals, targets and timelines or an implementation strategy. The report did not address the distinctive ways in which poverty affects certain marginalized groups. Since the announcement of an official strategy, organizations on the ground are working to ensure this new plan includes consultation with marginalized groups and appropriate mechanisms for accountability.

    Anetwork of individuals and organizations has come together from across the province to form Poverty Free Saskatchewan (PFS). PFS is calling on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments to work together to create an effective and detailed poverty elimination strategy for Saskatchewan.

    PFS is working to create a “Made-in Saskatchewan” action plan for eliminating poverty. To learn more read their report Strategies to Eliminate Poverty in Saskatchewan, which outlines the components for an effective and comprehensive poverty elimination plan for Saskatchewan.

    In February 2016 the Saskatchewan Government released the Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy which aims to reduce poverty by 50% by then end of 2025 through a number of initiatives to benefit those living in poverty.  The plan focuses on income security, housing and homelessness, early childhood development and child care, education and training, health and food security, and vulnerable families and people. The strategy has been criticized for its lack of targets.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.

  • Alberta

    AAlberta may have been the province with the highest average income but is now facing the downturn of the resource economy with severe consequences adding to its already significant inequality. Alberta is in the process of developing a provincial poverty plan. This follows an election promise by former Premier Alison Redford who proposed to develop a plan to eliminate child poverty in 5 years and poverty in 10 years in April 2012. The plan will be grounded in a broader Social Policy Framework and has already been the subject of a consultation process with thousands of Albertans. Alberta may be the province with the highest average income but it is also a region with significant inequality; this makes addressing poverty a challenge, requiring attention from many angles. The most recent available data suggests that 7-9.5% of Albertans live in poverty (depending on which metric is used) – this translates to between 259,000-354,000 people. In 2013 the Alberta Government estimated that 91,000 children lived in poverty. Alberta currently spends $7-9 billion dollars annually managing poverty.

    The report released by Public Interest Alberta, Alberta College of Social Workers and the Edmonton Social Planning Council, entitled From Words to Action: Alberta Can Afford a Real Poverty Reduction Strategy, contains updated information on the extent of child and family poverty in Alberta and also makes the case that Alberta can readily afford a poverty reduction strategy.

    For more detailed analysis, visit Canada Without Poverty’s Poverty Progress Profiles.