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.
Child and Family Poverty in Saskatchewan
by Paul Gingrich, Garson Hunter, Miguel Sanchez
Canada 2000 released national and provincial reports on November 24, 2016.
Global Regina news coverage “Child poverty rates in Saskatchewan higher than national average” http://globalnews.ca/news/3086534/child-poverty-rates-in-saskatchewan-higher-than-national-average/
CTV Regina newsclip http://www.ctvnews.ca/one-in-10-canadian-children-live-in-poverty-report-1.457428
Regina Leader Post article “1 in 4 Sask. children live in poverty: U of R report” http://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/one-in-four-sask-children-live-in-poverty-u-of-r-report
CTV national coverage of the situation Canada-wide “1 in 10 children live in poverty” http://www.ctvnews.ca/one-in-10-canadian-children-live-in-poverty-report-1.457428
The following Saskatchewan Government media release indicates that changes previously announced to Social Services will not apply to current clients in their current situations, but will apply to new clients, or existing clients whose situations change (e.g. they move or become 65 years old)
Province Announces Plans for Income Assistance Programs
Released on November 14, 2016
Changes proposed to Income Assistance programs will not be implemented as announced earlier this year, while the province proceeds to review and redesign its programs to better serve those in need.The 2,700 clients who received letters from Social Services this summer will not have their benefits impacted as a result of these policy changes until such time as their individual circumstances change (for example, they move). The program changes will continue to apply to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances change.“Our government has listened to the concerns of those who would have been affected by these changes, and we have decided against implementing them for existing clients,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said. “I know that this period of uncertainty has been difficult for people, and I thank them for their patience.“We are committed to ensuring that our programs serve those in greatest need, that they are effective, and that they are sustainable. To that end, we will be focusing our efforts on reviewing and redesigning our Income Assistance programs to support those who need them most and help people participate in the economic and social life of our province.”
Social Services has begun the work of Income Assistance Redesign, following through on a commitment made in the Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Redesign will be based on four principles: Income Assistance is citizen-centred, simple, transparent and sustainable.
Income Assistance Redesign will not focus on the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program or on income supports for people over the age of 65.
Earlier this year, the province announced that a number of changes to its Income Assistance programs would take effect September 1 or October 1:
- Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID): consider the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement when calculating benefits for families and people with disabilities who receive extra or “excess” living income through SAID;
- Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and SAID: end the grandfathering provision of excess shelter benefits under both programs in communities that previously had low vacancy rates;
- SAP and SAID: end the practice of exempting Seniors’ Income Plan (SIP) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up benefits; and
- Saskatchewan Employment Supplement (SES): end the practice of grandfathering benefits for families with children aged 13 and over.
Beginning September 1 or October 1, these changes have been applied to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances changed in such a way that their benefits would be affected: for example, they moved or began to receive income support for people over 65.
The changes simplify the programs and contribute to their sustainability.
People who have questions about their benefits are encouraged to call their Income Assistance Worker or Assured Income Specialist, or to contact the Client Service Centre at 1-866-221-5200.
For more information, contact:
Email: [email protected]
The federal government released a discussion paper, titled ‘Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy’ earlier this month. The paper includes a call to action and provides context on the issue in Canada. The discussion paper was released in advance of the government’s consultations, which are planned for 2017.
The discussion paper can be found here.
A basic income pilot project is being called for by Senator Art Eggleton and the Ontario government included a proposal in its recent budget.
“New Democrats’ poverty reduction act would address B.C.’s child poverty”
“New Democrats call on B.C. Liberals to take action on poverty and homelessness”
Bill M 218 – 2015: Poverty Reduction and Economic Inclusion Act, 2015
October 15, 2015 Member Statement by David Forbes in the Legislature re the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
David Forbes MLA and Donna Harpauer, Minister of Social Services, discuss a Poverty Reduction Strategy and Children Living in Poverty, November 26, 2015.
The Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership is holding a launch event for for Living Wage Saskatoon
Oct 28th 2015, 9:30-11:00am
Le Relais (308 4th Ave N Saskatoon)
For more information see
Twitter @livingwageYXE #LivingWageYXE
Colleen Christopherson-Cote, Community Partnerships Facilitator
Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership (SPRP)
rm 880 122 3rd Ave N Saskatoon, SK S7K2H6
This Audit was prepared for the recent election, and continues to be a useful resource.
Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) is a group of academics and students who work to synthesize and
distribute expertise about poverty reduction or eradication, with a view to increasing the impact of expertise on
policy makers and the public. The word “audit” is used for its consistency with neutrality. The goal is a nonpartisan analysis of party platforms in different areas, for their potential impact on lessening poverty.
Canada Poverty Audit