Foundations for a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy
Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
A Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy can make an important contribution by establishing foundational principles that will inform the policies of current and future governments at all levels, as well as civil society.
This submission proposes principles, approaches and priorities for a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.
A Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy is an opportunity to reinforce the principle that people in Canada have a right to live free of poverty. The Charter guarantees our rights to life, liberty, and security of the person. We believe that, in practice, protecting that right means we have a responsibility to ensure that people have the means to meet their needs and opportunities to participate fully in society. That includes access to health care, housing that meets their needs, nutritious food, public education, and decent work. Building the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy on a commitment to protecting the right to live free of poverty recognizes that, while people may differ on the best policies to accomplish these goals, the focus of those policies should be continuous progress towards ending poverty. This principle should inform the policies of current and future governments at all levels, as well as civil society.
In addition to clear principles, the federal government can provide leadership through the strategy by establishing clear, measurable targets with accountability and reporting attached. As it stands today, the measurement and reporting that is needed to monitor our progress on poverty reduction is not possible because of meaningful gaps in our data. To that end, a strategy should be anchored by an investment in the infrastructure to make that measurement and analysis possible.
The way that people are engaged in the poverty reduction strategy and related policy processes is also important to the success of the strategy. Too often, policy decisions affecting the lives of people experiencing poverty are made without giving those people a voice in how those decisions are shaped. Meaningful engagement means building in an active role for people who experience poverty in shaping and evaluating the strategy.
These areas should be priorities of the poverty reduction strategy:
- Income security
- Indigenous people
- Renewing the social contract