A Snapshot of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy
According to the Government of Canada, “poverty is: the condition of a person who is deprived of the resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain a basic level of living standards and to facilitate integration and participation in society.”
On August 21, 2018, The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced the Federal Government’s National Affordable Housing Strategy titled, Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy. The strategy was released following consultations throughout Canada with several stakeholders including Indigenous Leadership, frontline service providers, persons with lived experience, and various orders of government.
Highlights of the strategy:
- – Set targets and a timeline to reduce poverty. These targets include:
- – Reduce poverty by 20% by 2021
- – Reduce poverty by 50% by 2030
- – Established a standard measure of poverty for Canada
- – Previously known as the Market Basket Measure, moving forward the measure will be called Canada’s Official Poverty Line, which provides Canadians with a standard measure to monitor progress
- – This measure determines whether an individual or family can afford a certain basket of goods and services based on their income
- – Ongoing reporting will be completed annually by the National Advisory Council on Poverty
- – This reporting will allow the council, as well as advocates, to measure the success of the strategy and identify gaps and weaknesses in ongoing poverty reduction efforts
- – Announcement of the proposed Poverty Reduction Act
- – Enshrines the poverty reduction targets and Canada’s National Poverty Measure into law
- – Provides the National Advisory Council with more power in decision making and enforcement of poverty reduction efforts
While the strategy represents a growing commitment and builds on current programs and services that are meant to lift individuals out of poverty, it does not pledge additional funds to poverty reduction efforts. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether the Poverty Reduction Act will be passed into law. In the absence of legislation, policy lacks the teeth require to ensure the intentions of the strategy are taken seriously by policy makers.
However, setting targets, establishing a standard measure, and continuing to monitor the impact of anti-poverty programs/policies throughout Canada is an excellent first step. Moving forward, CUPS is excited to see the momentum from the release of this strategy translated into further action from the government. The strategy provides a blueprint that stakeholders can use to hold the government accountable to their promise to lift Canadians out of poverty. CUPS’ believes that all Calgarians should be given the opportunity to overcome the cycle of poverty and trauma for themselves and supports the message from Canadians that poverty reduction efforts must include dignity, opportunity/inclusion, and resilience/security.