In 2018, the Government of Canada committed to reducing poverty through what they called the “Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy.” The first report on “Canada’s progress” was tabled in parliament yesterday by Ahmed Hussen the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development – but what did Canada commit to in their poverty reduction strategy?
The Government of Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy says that the reduction strategies goals are in-line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
“Opportunity for All offers a bold vision for Canada as a world leader in the eradication of poverty, with progress validated in terms of its alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty.“
This makes sense as point number 1.3 in the SDGs first goal (End poverty in all its forms everywhere) says that we should “Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.” On that note, a Liberal MP just introduced Bill C-273 which calls for a guaranteed income or UBI.
According to the recent news release from Employment and Social Development Canada, the Government of Canada says that the “Poverty Reduction Strategy included concrete poverty reduction targets and established Canada’s Official Poverty Line to measure poverty and track progress toward the targets.” It also created a National Advisory Council on Poverty which is will submit an annual report on the progress achieved toward the Government’s poverty reduction goals.
The Government of Canada was more than content to outline their perceived achievements in the report – they had an entire chapter dedicated to them. They tell us they have made a “number of commitments that will help reach its poverty reduction targets.”
The Trudeau government considers the Canada Child Benefit, the guaranteed income supplement, their National Housing Strategy, Indigenous housing efforts and transportation investments in public transit all examples of their commitment to poverty reduction targets.
Prime Minister Trudeau’s government says they’re “continuing to invest in affordable housing; carrying out a campaign to create jobs; supporting initiatives to improve food security, and planning to bring forward a new benefit and employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities.”
The Government of Canada reasons that “through programs like the Canada Child Benefit “367,000 children have been lifted out of poverty since 2015.” They conclude by saying that the Government of Canada is committed to continuing its poverty reduction efforts and that “this report will help to inform government policies, programs and service delivery.”
The Poverty Reduction Strategy targets a Poverty reduction of 50% by 2030. The Frasier Institute however takes issues with the Poverty Reduction Strategies definition of Poverty:
“As of the latest (2020) revision, the MBM line has increased substantially (due largely to higher deemed costs of shelter) so that families of four in most urban centres in Canada would have to have total incomes in excess of $60,000 to escape poverty. This, I suggest, is not a reasonable line for poverty. It bears no connection to the understanding of poverty that most people have (as cited in the paper), which relates to the lack of basic necessities, and bears no connection to the way journalists and politicians routinely describe people in poverty (hunger, material deprivation, suffering). It is predictable, however, that social justice activists are not satisfied with the level of the MBM and want more items included in the basket.”
The Frasier Institute continued by stating:
“It is predictable, however, that social justice activists are not satisfied with the level of the MBM and want more items included in the basket.”
The Frasier Institute argues that the framers of the MBM have chosen to focus on inclusion. They suggest that we focus on “real deprivation” and employ second measures as a goal for the poor. They say in their report “I believe that we should want to know how many of our fellow Canadians cannot cover their basic needs.”
Even if you believe this is the right move for Trudeau to make – you should make sure you’re holding him to account by advocating for an accurate assessment of “real poverty,” that is Canadians that cannot cover their basic needs.
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