There are a number of important fences to be jumped in order to successfully reduce poverty in Canada. One reason for that is that poverty is so multifaceted. But, like the legendary Canadian show jumper Big Ben – who overcame significant challenges to become a champion – the network of advocates working tirelessly to eradicate poverty in this country is learning – and demonstrating – that victory is possible.
There are so many routes in and out of poverty that it is genuinely difficult for policy makers to agree on those decisions that can fundamentally change the landscape for low income people. Because there is uncertainty that big and bold initiatives will actually work to reduce poverty, small and meek adjustments to existing, often unproven, programs are too often preferred.
Acknowledging the multifaceted nature of poverty is in fact the first key to addressing it. It is a scourge that must be taken on in a multi-dimensional way. It is for this reason that the provinces that have adopted wide ranging poverty reduction plans are taking the lead in bringing the poverty numbers down.
Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank had this to say about its finding on child poverty statistics: “The results overall show that, in regards to child poverty, provinces that had implemented poverty reduction strategies with targets and timelines appear to have made a substantial impact in reducing child poverty from 2006 to 2011.”
As surprising as it may sound to some, there is a great deal of science to draw from in figuring out how to reduce poverty. The evidence is showing that those poverty reduction plans which are evidence-based in all their facets have better chances of success, in the long term, than those without such an orientation. Thus, poverty reduction planners who want to include an early learning component should have a look at the Report by Fortin, Godbout and St-Cerny on the Quebec model. If instead, their minds are more focused on poverty and seniors, they should read Poverty among Senior Citizens: A Canadian Success Story. As these resources illustrate, evidence is usually available to support innovative approaches to reducing poverty however they typically have to be mastered and adapted for local conditions.
Poverty is not too hard to solve provided a wide ranging and evidence based approach is taken.
- Poverty among Senior Citizens: A Canadian Success Story
- Impact of Quebec’s Universal Low-Fee Childcare Program on Female Labour Force Participation, Domestic Income and Government Budgets
Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine.