How expanding guaranteed income beyond seniors can reduce poverty in Canada
Provides a history of municipal initiatives in Alberta and where municipalities are now in terms of poverty reduction strategies.
Celia Lee & Alexa Briggs
As of 2010, 7,360 people in the greater Medicine Hat area were living in poverty, 2,590 of whom were children – representing a 10% poverty rate, and a 16% child poverty rate.
This report was commissioned by the Medicine Hat Poverty Roundtable as part of a community-based effort to reduce poverty in Medicine Hat. Fundamental to the Roundtable’s objective is the need to develop a different approach to addressing poverty. The aim is to move from a charity-based approach to an investment approach: from alleviating poverty to preventing and ultimately reducing poverty by addressing it at its roots. For the Roundtable, this means moving beyond addressing crises to preventing crises in the first place. It means ensuring that its citizens can access help before being destitute. And it means thinking about how moderate investments made now can lead to significant and long-term social benefit, financial savings, and economic growth down the road.
Valerie Tarasuk Ph.D., Lynn McIntyre MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Elaine Power, Ph.D.
Report authors, including Dr. Lynn McIntrye of the University of Calgary, state that food insecurity is a persistent problem affecting almost one in 12 Canadian households. Some households are extraordinarily vulnerable, notably those reliant on social assistance, of which over half are food insecure. They conclude that the many federal and provincial programs that comprise our 'social safety net' are failing to enable many Canadians to meet their basic food needs and that charitable food aid is not the answer.
They recommend that it is a state responsibility to ensure that people have the basic financial resources necessary to acquire food through acceptable, ordinary channels.
The authors state that a public policy approach is required to address weaknesses in the social safety net of Canadians through both federal and provincial/territorial jurisdictional lenses. Social assistance reform is paramount, but all social protection programs need consideration - including radical reforms such as guaranteed income programs that work so well for seniors. Any public policy approach must make explicit food security policy goals to ensure that income transfer programs of all sorts are designed to enable household food security - synergistic with other poverty-reduction goals.
United Way Calgary and Area
This report is based on research undertaken through 2011 and 2012 to gain a better understanding of the barriers that families with lower incomes face and the assets which can support long-term change.
Survey findings, corroborated by Discussion Series participants and informants, show that families on a lower income are making use of these supports, but they are not enough to move them out of poverty. Without changing the underlying approach of systems from short-term remedies to long-term solutions, many families will continue to struggle and their ability to achieve greater wellbeing will continue to be compromised.
To be truly effective in increasing accessibility, guaranteeing basic needs, empowering families, maximizing skills and education, and providing equal opportunities for children, a comprehensive government strategy is essential. In this sense, the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative and the Provincial Government's Social Policy Framework and recent announcement of a provincial poverty reduction strategy are great leaps forward.
The Edmonton Social Planning Council, the Alberta College of Social Workers, and Public Interest Alberta
The Edmonton Social Planning Council, the Alberta College of Social Workers, and Public Interest Alberta released a new report, In This Together: Ending Poverty in Alberta revealing the latest available data that 73,000 Alberta children lived below Statistics Canada's low-income cut-off (after-tax) in 2009. This was a 40% increase from the year before. The document also offers solutions to alleviating poverty in Alberta.
The report states that we can end poverty and that failure to undertake effective action to end poverty has serious consequences and costs not only for those directly affected, but for all Albertans. Albertans want to learn from each other about good practices and develop cost-effective solutions. Alberta should be a leader in ending poverty, a model to the rest of Canada.
Report recommendations include: government leadership, child benefits are effective in reducing poverty, accessing benefits made easier, gender equality, deliver on plan to end homelessness, affordable rents and homeownership, support to service providers, a fair income for work and early childhood education.
National Council of Welfare
Autumn 2011| Volume # 130
The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty expands on previous National Council reports by providing more examples from a growing body of studies as well as insights that can improve success in establishing clearer vision, designing more effective plans and budgets, improving accountability to Canadians and ensuring progress by measuring what matters.
This report provides insights to the why the costs of poverty are higher than most people realize and a wide range of examples of the costs we are paying now compared to the savings and positive return on investment we could be getting if we adopted an investment approach.
The report recommends that a long-term, investment approach is more appropriate to human wellbeing and development than a short-term spending approach focused largely on costs. We could achieve better human and financial outcomes by contributing to greater productivity and wellbeing. The results will show up in lower poverty rates, reduced strain on health care and other public service systems, and less stress.
An investment approach is needed to end poverty, not just alleviate its symptoms.
The old saying that “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” applies to solving poverty as much as anything else.
A new report argues that inequality and poverty are undermining Canada's economic potential. The report was prepared by the Action Canada Task Force on Inequality, Poverty and the Knowledge-Based Economy, whose authors include Paul Yeung, senior manager of regulatory and government affairs at Royal Bank of Canada, University of Cambridge Gates Scholar Michael Marin, and Boston Consulting Group consultant Eric Tribe. Attached above is a link to an Executive Summary of the report.
Calgary Homeless Foundation
Calgary's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was first published in January 2008. The original Plan included a number of assumptions and reflected a different landscape in Calgary. Three years into the Plan, the Calgary Homeless Foundation in partnership with the community prepared this update. The update describes what has been learned and achieved to date, and what needs to be done over the next seven years.
Public Interest Alberta and the Edmonton Social Planning Council
A report on poverty in Alberta, showing, for instance, that 53,000 Alberta children lived below Statistics Canada's low-income cut-off (after-tax) in 2008, a number that is probably higher today due to the effects of the recession on our economy.
Alberta College of Social Workers
A vision for a more equitable and just Alberta based on social work values and principles.
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology - Report of the Subcommittee on Cities
A major Senate report that declares that Canada's system for lifting people out of poverty is substantially broken and must be overhauled. Based on the findings of an extensive study, the Committee's fundamental recommendation is that Canada and all provinces and territories adopt the goal of lifting people out of poverty.
Public Interest Alberta and the Edmonton Social Planning Council
With the support of many United Way agencies, foundations, social agencies, health and educational professionals, and municipalities, seven forums were hosted across Alberta in 2009. The feedback and the results of these forums are summarized in this report.
SROI study on the fair fares initiative in Calgary supported by Vibrant Communities Calgary.
This website offers a comprehensive overview, with links when possible, to the news and reports as they are published on the issue of poverty in Canada.
"Poverty Initiatives and Research Publications" with links to various publications from their organization and partners. A recent report title Towards Resiliency for Vulnerable Youth can also be found on the United Way website. United Way of Calgary and Area has a long history of commitment to supporting vulnerable youth in Calgary. In 2010, they undertook research into the experiences of vulnerable youth as they transition into adulthood, including the challenges and opportunities they face. Another report title The External Cost of Poverty: A Conservative Assessment June 2004, provides an estimate of the ‘external’ costs of poverty as a contribution towards constructing a compelling case for sustained poverty reduction in the city. By external costs the authors mean costs incurred by people other than those who live in poverty.
Peter Faid, Community Services Consulting Ltd. Social Development Report Series
Commissioned by the Canadian Council on Social Development
Innocenti Report Card 7
A comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nations.
An independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice. A complete catalogue of reports, studies, backgrounders, policy briefs and such.
Igniting community action through collaboration, education and mutual problem-solving
Vibrant Communities Calgary
Vibrant Communities Calgary's community plan for sustained poverty reduction from 2005 to 2008.
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