Canada Without Poverty gives Saskatchewan’s Poverty Reduction Plan a failing grade
Poverty Free Saskatchewan is highlighting a national assessment that shows Saskatchewan is much behind other provinces in its efforts to eliminate poverty.
Canada Without Poverty (CWP) recently issued its annual progress profiles on all Canadian province and territories poverty plans. The 2017 Poverty Progress Profiles report was prepared using a human rights framework with ten success indicators. http://www.cwp-csp.ca/2018/02/provinces-and-territories-make-limited-progress-on-economic-and-social-rights-report/
In order for a poverty strategy to be based on human rights, CWP says, the plan must meet a number of criteria.
Saskatchewan’s effort in this regard, Taking Action on Poverty: The Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy, was released by the provincial government in 2016. Its aim was to reduce the number of Saskatchewan people who experience poverty for two years or more by 50 per cent by the end of 2025. https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2016/february/24/poverty-reduction-strategy
Saskatchewan’s strategy is in compliance with only two of the ten CWP indicators, #2 and #5. It is somewhat in compliance with #6, and not in compliance with the remaining seven.
- Ensure human rights training for those involved in developing and implementing the strategy. (*SK – SOMEWHAT*)
- Identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality. (*SK – YES*)
- Explicitly refer to human rights obligations. (*SK – NO*)
- Be enshrined in the law. (*SK – NO*)
- Include representatives of diverse groups experiencing poverty in developing, implementing, and evaluating the strategy. (*SK – YES*)
- Set rigorous goals and timelines for achieving identified strategy goals. (*SK – SOMEWHAT*)
- Develop transparent mechanisms and indicators to monitor and track progress. (*SK – NO*)
- Report annually and publicly on progress. (*SK – NO*)
- Be a budget priority. (*SK – NO*)
- Create a space for individuals to claim rights and hold their government accountable to the strategy. (*SK – NO*)
CWP also noted that child poverty in Saskatchewan is very high and the poverty level for Indigenous children living off reserve and on reserve is extremely high. The province’s minimum wage is second lowest in Canada. And food insecurity in Northern Saskatchewan is a very serious concern.
The Saskatchewan government has not presented to the public a comprehensive evaluation report on achievement of its poverty reduction goals.
Saskatchewan saw the largest increase in consumer prices, compared to all other Canadian provinces between December 2016 and December 2017. A major factor in the increase is thought to be the tax changes implemented with the last provincial budget. This article by the CBC highlights some of the ways that low-income residents in the province have been impacted e.g. a large jump in emergency food basket usage at the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.
Link to the article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/sask-inflation-rate-high-1.4506386
In 2015 over 100,000 seniors in Sask received Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Assistance. 118,000 families received the Child Benefit. 52,000 received Employment Assistance and 50,000 Social Assistance.
Government transfers are very important to the economic well being of Sask. residents. Our economy would plummet if they were taken away as is happening in the U.S.
We need to protect them.
From CBC Saskatchewan:
It is expensive to be low-income. Many low-income families turn to payday loans when unexpected circumstances pop up–which can end up charging them effective annual interest rates of up to 600%. The social justice organization ACORN has been calling for governments to force payday loan companies to lower the rates they charge.
Some promising developments:
- In February 2018, Saskatchewan is going to be setting the maximum borrowing charge on payday loans at 17% (down from 23%).
- Affinity Credit Union in Saskatchewan has started making “microloans” (small loans which can be paid back over a period of to 2 years) available to customers who would normally turn to payday loans.
In this article in the Toronto Star, physicians advocate for changes to their province’s income security system to improve health and reduce the cost to society.
From the article from CBC Saskatchewan: families are being impacted by the recent elimination of the standardized 3,000-calorie diet benefit in the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program and Saskatchewan Assistance Program. The story of Alan Hall and Marianne Hollman-Hall is presented; the Halls both have disabilities and relied on that additional $75 benefit to help them afford the healthy food they need. The diet benefit change is expected to affect 760 people on Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability program, and 600 people on the Saskatchewan Assistance Program. Alan Hall now only receives $125 per month for food under the SAID program and is calling for that benefit to be increased to at least $300 per month; Hall says the benefit has not been increased in 32 years despite a dramatic rise in food costs over the decades.
Link to article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/special-diet-cuts-1.4389386
Rally at the Saskatchewan Legislature: October 17th at noon
October 17 is the International Day for Eradication of Poverty! Let’s send a strong message to the SK government and let them know what they have to do to eradicate poverty in our province.
From CBC Saskatchewan:
As part of the nation-wide ‘Chew on This’ campaign, anti-poverty advocates in Regina (including Peter Gilmer from the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and Poverty Free Saskatchewan) handed out apples and information to passersby to raise awareness and discussion.