PFS is holding a Poverty Elimination Conference on October 17 in Regina. 10 am to 4 pm at Knox Metropolitan Church. Stay tuned for further details!
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.
The 2017 provincial budget contained many cuts particularly detrimental to people living with poverty. Budget 2017: For the Few, Not the Many documents the impacts of these changes. budget_2017_PFS (final) June 15
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/
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
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 provincial government’s report “Taking Action on Poverty: The Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy” was released on February 24, 2016.
Media coverage: CBC http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sask-poverty-reduction-plan-released-1.3463141 ; CTV http://regina.ctvnews.ca/saskatchewan-unveils-plan-to-reduce-poverty-including-more-housing-health-care-1.2791429 ; Regina Leader-Post http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/community-not-happy-with-provinces-poverty-reduction-strategy ; Global News interview with Blair Roberts, YMCA, Regina http://globalnews.ca/video/2542624/digging-deeper-sask-partys-poverty-reduction-strategy.
In August, 2015 the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction released their report with recommendations for Saskatchewan’s poverty reduction strategy. http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2015/august/24/poverty-reduction-strategy Full report. Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction Report
Article discussing the report and Minister Harpauer’s response. http://www.thestarphoenix.com/business/Saskatchewan+group+aims+slash+poverty+half/11314275/story.html
PFS response to Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction Report AGPR Report PFS comments Oct 2015
“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.