Home Blog September 2016 It’s Time for a National Poverty Reduction Strategy

It’s Time for a National Poverty Reduction Strategy

It’s Time for a National Poverty Reduction Strategy
During Hunger Awareness Week, food banks across the country are telling the stories of the work they do in their communities. They are raising awareness of hunger in Canada, and asking all Canadians to take action to reduce food insecurity.

Each and every month, 850,000 people access a food bank just to make ends meet. They do so for countless reasons – because there are few well-paying jobs in their region; because a local factory or mill recently closed down; because they are caring for a sick family member and are unable to work; because they are on social assistance and living with an income far below the poverty line.
Even though the majority of provinces and territories have implemented poverty reduction strategies in the past decade, food bank use is currently 26% higher than it was in 2008, before the last recession. Provincial and territorial strategies have tended to be tentative and incremental – making limited changes that have narrow impacts. These strategies have been far from revolutionary, and they are largely forgotten in the current context, where the Western economic powerhouses have been reduced to shadows of their recent selves.
In the dark years after the 2008-2009 recession, we could at least count on good news out of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, thanks to the high price of oil, gas and potash. This good news disappeared along with high commodity prices, and other sectors have not stepped into the breach. The manufacturing sector continues to struggle, while low-paying service sector jobs keep growing.
It is in this highly pressurized context that we look to the new Liberal federal government as it develops a long-awaited national poverty reduction strategy. We encourage the Minister responsible for developing the strategy, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, to seriously consider bold policy ideas like a basic income to replace the existing welfare system, and to target reforms at groups that have been passed over by existing strategies.
Time is of the essence if real change is to happen within the federal government’s current mandate (i.e. 2015 – 2019). The ability to make substantive changes to federal policy will effectively end in late 2018, when federal parties begin to look toward the 2019 election. For this reason, we believe it is essential that Minister Duclos present Parliament with a National Poverty Reduction Strategy no later than October 1, 2017. 

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of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)