Action to End Poverty in Alberta thanks Premier Redford for her leadership and commitment to ending child poverty, addressing the root causes of poverty and ultimately ending poverty in Alberta. We also thank the Alberta Ministry of Human Services for its initiative in developing a social policy framework and for engaging Albertans in this important process. We are excited to see that the Ministry and Premier Redford have identified the need for a strategy to end poverty as a key outcome of this framework-in essence, the recognition that poverty is at the root of most social issues.
Therefore, the next steps are critical. Because poverty is so central, we urge the government to make ending poverty a priority and to work with all levels of government, the community and especially with people experiencing poverty, to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy and action plan. Further we feel strongly that government spending in this area is actually an investment that benefits all Albertans and will ultimately reduce the government’s cost base.
We recommend that the plan be enshrined in legislation and include clear responsibilities, goals, timelines and specific policy measures and actions in the following areas outlined by Canadian public policy expert, Sherri Torjman.
1. Affordable housing
2. Early childhood development
4. Demand-driven jobs and skills training and upgrading
5. Appropriate income supplementation
6. Appropriate income replacement
7. Adequate income and appropriate supports for persons with disabilities
8. Assistance with the creation of assets for low- and modest-income households
9. Strong social infrastructure
10. Place-based initiatives that fashion integrated approaches to intervention
The areas listed here are consistent with the developing Social Policy Framework, and we feel that policy measures and actions built around these areas allow us to invest in programs and services designed to prevent poverty and springboard people out of poverty. In the long run this is a more effective and less costly approach than spending to alleviate the impacts of poverty.
In economic terms alone, a report, co-published in February 2012 by Action to End Poverty in Alberta and Vibrant Communities Calgary, titled "Poverty Costs: An Economic Case for a Preventative Poverty Reduction Strategy in Alberta" revealed that the effects of poverty cost us as much as $9.5 billion dollars a year in public services like health care, in crime, and in lost economic opportunities for children and people living in poverty as well as losses to the economy.
If we commit to a bold plan we can improve the lives of individuals and families in our communities; decrease provincial spending on effects of poverty; increase literacy, education and skills training - leading to increased work opportunities for individuals and companies; and increase the economic productivity of Alberta.
There is nothing inevitable about poverty in a society as wealthy as ours.