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
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
How much does it cost to eat healthy in our province? The Saskatchewan Food Costing Task Group looked at the average food cost of a nutritionally adequate, balanced diet in Saskatchewan in 2015 and the report summarizing the findings was released this week.
The cost to feed a reference family of four increased from a provincial average of $218.24 per week in 2012 to $243.64 in 2015, an increase of 11.5% in only 3 years. The cost of healthy foods in the far north region of Saskatchewan is 80% higher than the provincial average.
Rising food costs are putting pressure on all residents of Saskatchewan, but especially vulnerable populations, eg. people living in poverty.
The Cost of Healthy Eating in Saskatchewan 2015 report can be used by decision makers and organizations to inform:
- allocation of funds for nutrition programs, food grants and food allowances;
- decisions regarding health, nutrition and social policy development and implementation;
- further assessment and monitoring of regional barriers and cost differences affecting healthy food access; and,
- supporting and promoting access to nutritious, safe, and personally acceptable foods.
For more information, the 2015 food costing report can be found here.
A news release about the report by Dietitians of Canada can be found here.
Infographics illustrating the results can be found here and here.
This Focus Saskatchewan feature from Global News highlights how certain groups in the province (e.g. First Nations and Métis peoples, single parent households, recent immigrants, and people with disabilities) have considerably higher rates of poverty. For example, while about a quarter of children in SK live in poverty (Campaign 2000 report), 64% of status First Nations children in the province live in poverty (CCPA, 2013).
Link to the story: http://globalnews.ca/news/2291290/the-link-between-poverty-and-race-in-saskatchewan/
The Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction held a roundtable consultation in April to get input from members of community organizations and the general public into the development of the province’s upcoming poverty reduction strategy. Representatives from Poverty Free Saskatchewan were in attendance and provided feedback. This article by Charles Hamilton in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix showcases some opinions from advocates, including the need to have clear targets and timelines.
The Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction has launched an online survey which aims to gain feedback from the public about root causes of poverty, priorities for action, and potential solutions. Saskatchewan residents are asked to fill out the survey to share their experiences and thoughts on how the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy should be developed. The survey closes May 15, 2015.
Link to the survey: http://gos.fluidsurveys.com/surveys/eccs/poverty-reduction-survey/
A recent article was published on the CKRM website about the Advisory Group and their consultations: http://www.620ckrm.com/ckrm-on-air/ckrm-local-news/9248-saskatchewan-government-creates-advisory-group-on-povery
On March 31, 2015, representatives from Poverty Free Saskatchewan met with members of the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction. PFS delivered a presentation to the group. This presentation provided background information on the structure and work of Poverty Free Saskatchewan (e.g. research, building connections and consultations). The presenters also discussed some ideas the AGPR should consider in moving forward e.g. the potential to create legislation as part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty, and the need to involve people with lived experience with poverty in the process in meaningful ways.
PFS presentation to AGPR – Mar 31 2015 – final