International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

October 17th is the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It is an important day for anti-poverty organizations because it is a time when we remember commitments made by Canada and the provinces under international law to eliminate poverty. Poverty is a human rights violation, and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights outlines issues like inadequate income security, housing, child care, and a living wage. These are not just public policy issues but issues of basic human rights.

Around the world there are huge problems with hunger and dislocation due to political and economic structures, war and the impacts of climate change. We need to act abroad and at home to address poverty.

In a wealthy country and province, we should be ensuring all citizens have an adequate standard of living as outlined by the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

In 2022, we have deep concerns about the inadequacy of income security and housing programs in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS), which completely replaced Social Assistance and the Transitional Employment Allowances, remains an inadequate program.

  • The SIS benefit should be increased by $300 per month with a long-term plan to raise people above the poverty line.
  • SIS recipients should have the option of having rent and utility payments provided directly to housing and utility providers, thus simplifying their financial arrangements.
  • On top of the adult allowance and shelter allowance, the SIS program should cover the actual cost of basic utilities such as power, energy, water, and basic phone service.
  • The SIS plan deducts Rental Housing Supplements dollar for dollar from those who have been able to keep their benefits – this deduction should end.
  • Rental security deposits that are provided by the Ministry of Social Services are deducted $50 per month from future benefits until they are paid back. These clawback practices need to stop.

The basic adult allowance on SIS for all non-shelter-related costs is only $315 per month.

  • The shelter allowance for both housing and utilities is $600 per month in Regina and Saskatoon and $550 in the rest of Saskatchewan.
  • These benefit levels do not improve with family size, as a family of 3 or more children only receives $1175 for housing and utility costs in Regina and Saskatoon and the rest of the province receives $875.
  • Previous programs had more categories in SIS to compensate for the increase in children. Now, families with three children or seven children receive the same amount.

We also have significant concerns with the benefits provided by the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID).

  • It has been seven years since the last benefit increase while the cost of living has risen significantly during that period.
  • In addition, SAID beneficiaries have seen cuts to rental supports and special needs since 2015.

When the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement application process ended in 2018, we were told that there would be a joint federal-provincial housing benefit that would act as a replacement in 2020. When the Saskatchewan Housing Benefit came into effect 2 years ago, it denied eligibility to those on the SIS and SAID programs, meaning that it remains increasingly difficult for income recipients to cover their housing costs. The eligibility for this benefit must be expanded to those households that need it the most.

In conclusion, we continue to call for an Act to End Poverty in Saskatchewan that includes the social and economic rights that Saskatchewan committed to 46 years ago under international law. The UN Committee on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights has been very critical of Canada and all the provinces for not ensuring these rights in such a wealthy country. They recommended increasing the availability of affordable housing units, introducing human rights-based policies, and extending programs to cover people most affected by food insecurity (Economic and Social Council, 2016).

Addressing poverty in Saskatchewan requires a commitment to change and supporting people who need it the most.

For more information contact: RAPM Peter Gilmer (306) 352-6386, PFS Joanne Havelock (306)535-9570

Reference: Economic and Social Council. (2016). Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Canada. United Nations.


Poverty in Sask – 2019

In 2019 in Saskatchewan, 136 thousand of the 1.1 million people were poor, up from 123 thousand poor in 2016.  After yearly ups and downs, the poverty rate rose from 11.2 per cent in 2018 to 12.4 per cent in 2019. The poverty gap of 38 per cent means that for persons in poverty, average income was 38 per cent below the Official Poverty Line (OPL).

These statistics are from the newly released report Poverty in Saskatchewan – 2019  (See )  This report summarizes 2016 to 2019 Saskatchewan poverty trends and patterns using the OPL based on Statistics Canada data released in March 2021.

The highest poverty rates were among children under the age of 18 in female lone-parent families and persons aged 18 to 64 not living in families.  The report also highlighted high poverty rates among Indigenous persons, recent immigrants, visible minority persons, and persons with disabilities.

The statistics also show that poverty reduction in Saskatchewan lags behind other provinces.

These data refer to the period before the COVID-19 crisis – developments in 2020 are not reflected.

Sask Poverty Dashboard – 3

A periodic report on poverty in Saskatchewan

High poverty rates and deep poverty among Saskatchewan adults not living in families.

Among Saskatchewan adults aged 18-64 who live alone, poverty is especially great.

The 2018 Official Poverty Rate for Saskatchewan was 11.2 per cent but among non-elderly adults who were not living in families, the rate was over triple that, at 36 per cent.

While only 11 per cent of the province’s non-elderly live alone, this group accounts for 36 per cent of all poor persons in Saskatchewan.

The average income of these non-elderly non-family poor persons was approximately $11,800 in 2018, only 55 per cent of the Official Poverty threshold that averaged $21,400 across the province.

This deep poverty meant that these poor adults had incomes only one-third of the median income of all non-elderly adults living alone.   For those receiving the average $8,800 social assistance rate for single employable persons, the gap was even greater.

Income estimates from Statistics Canada and

See PDF of sk poverty dashboard – 3


Statistics Canada data come from Tables 11-10-0135-01, 11-10-0190-01, and 11-10-0066-01.  Poverty thresholds differ by region of Saskatchewan – averages presented here are regional averages weighted by population size of region.  Social assistance data come from pp. 74-79 of Welfare in Canada, available for download at   For more information on the Official Poverty Line see

Poverty Free Saskatchewan, January 2021

Sask Poverty Dashboard – 2

A periodic report on poverty in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan income security programs for those with low income are much too low to enable recipients to escape poverty. 

In 2019, a single employable Saskatchewan Assistance Plan (SAP) recipient received $8,829 in SAP and tax credits.  The poverty line for a single person living in Saskatoon was $23,190 meaning a SAP recipient received only 38 per cent of this.

A single person receiving the higher Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) rate received only 68 per cent of the income necessary to meet the poverty line.

All income security recipients in the three groups in the diagram, (see PDF) as well as a couple with two children, received well under 75 per cent of the income required to lift them out of poverty, meaning all were in what Statistics Canada defines as deep poverty.

Saskatchewan income security rates compared with Canada’s Official Poverty Line, 2019

See the PDF here Sask Poverty Dashboard – 2


These data come from Jennefer Laidley and Hannah Aldridge, Welfare in Canada, 2019, pp. 74-79, November 2020.   This Maytree publication is available for download at   For more information on the Official Poverty Line see   The 2019 poverty threshold for a single parent with one child and living in Saskatoon is $32,795.

Poverty Free Saskatchewan, January 2021


Petition to stop CERB clawbacks

A Message from End Poverty Regina, Dec. 7, 2020.

Regina’s Anti-Poverty Ministry and End Poverty Regina are sponsoring a petition calling on the provincial government to stop the CERB claw backs.

Time is of the essence. Petitions will be read out in the Legislature and next week is the last week the Legislature will be sitting before Christmas.

We will, however, keep collecting signatures over the holiday season in preparation for the 2021 session of the Legislature.


Information on where to send the petition Information on Petition on CERB clawbacks

A Message from Saskatchewan’s Future

SaskForward has created this video of a compelling vision for Saskatchewan’s future.

A Message from Saskatchewan’s Future


Poverty rates in Saskatchewan – an update

Poverty continues to be a major problem in Saskatchewan.  Recently revised Statistics Canada data show that the number of persons in poverty in Saskatchewan in 2018 was 122 thousand, 11.2 percent of the population.  And these figures date from before the pandemic – in 2020 more residents of the province are likely to live in poverty.

In 2018 there were 28 thousand children in poverty in the province.

The poverty threshold for a family of four in Regina was $44,833; for a person living alone it was $22,416.  Living below this line were:

    • 48 per cent of children in female lone-parent families
    • 36 per cent of persons aged 18-64 not living in families
    • 4.6 percent of seniors aged 65 plus

While updated data do not include information for the fifty thousand plus persons living on reserves, incomes are especially low among the Indigenous population of the province.

For more information see


Sask Election 2020 – recommendations from PFS

PFS strongly recommends the creation of a provincial anti-poverty act.  Such an Act should aim to eliminate poverty, providing income security, adequate housing, health care investments and affordable child care for all persons and families in Saskatchewan.  The Act would be developed in consultation with all sectors of the community, centering on people experiencing poverty, and have independent overview of its implementation.

Since 2015 the Saskatchewan government has cut or reduced programs for those with low incomes.  PFS has outlined these in documents about the provincial budgets – most recently in 2020. (See )

Concrete steps that should be taken by the Saskatchewan Government are:

  1. Reverse the five years of continuous cutbacks to benefits that have resulted from the provincial government’s actions.
  2. Increase the basic allowance of all the department’s income assistance programs by $300 per month.
  3. Reverse the claw back of the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments for those receiving provincial income assistance.
  4. Top up the Canada Child Benefit by providing an additional $1,000 per year for each child for families with children under age 18.
  5. Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  6. Allocate a significant portion of the provincial government’s $200 million pandemic plan to address the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, drug addiction, HIV prevention services, housing, and preK-12 education and training systems.

Int’l Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Today, October 17, is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  The need for immediate action to address poverty cannot be ignored.

With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become apparent that governments in Saskatchewan, Canada and internationally have a responsibility to address the needs of people living with low income.

As a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Canada and Saskatchewan are obligated to uphold its recommendations.

United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Concluding Observations on Canada (March 23,2016)

The following recommendations are from the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ observations on the sixth periodic report on Canada’s implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“The Committee recommends the following actions to reduce poverty:

  1. Considering the advanced level of development of the State Party (Government of Canada), the Committee is concerned about the significant number of people living in poverty. It is further concerned that indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, single mothers, as well as minority groups continue to experience higher rates of poverty and at the limited effectiveness of measures taken to address this (article 11)
  1. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to combat poverty more effectively while paying particular attention to groups and individuals that are more vulnerable to poverty. The Committee recommends that the State party in collaboration with provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples and in consultation with civil society organizations, implement a human rights-based national anti-poverty strategy, which includes measureable goals and timelines as well as independent monitoring mechanisms. The Committee further recommends that the State party ensure that provinces and territories’ anti-poverty policies are human rights-based and aligned with the national strategy.”

Budget 2020: Appalling Frugality – new PFS publication

“The Saskatchewan provincial budget tabled on June 15, 2020 was most notable in its brevity and lack of foresight.”

In this article, Poverty Free Saskatchewan describes in detail the inappropriate frugality impacting the most vulnerable and the lack of contingency planning for a COVID-19 return and makes recommendations for future government action. (See full article budget_2020_PFS_web)


Poverty Free Saskatchewan recommends that the provincial government proceed to provide better social protection to the bottom half of income earners, including the following:

    1. The first immediate step the provincial government could, and should, take is to top up the federal child benefit – essentially a basic income for children – which would be a significant help to single parent families and the lowest income families. However, the Minister of Social Services would call this program stacking and has not implemented it.

An increase to the child benefit would create a modest boost in income for the small army of carers and volunteers – mostly women – whose contribution, as the epidemic has revealed, is critical to the functioning of society but greatly undervalued. By providing all citizens with much more choice over work, education, training, leisure and caring, it would also lay the foundation for greater personal empowerment and freedom. By establishing a baseline income, poverty and inequality would be reduced, universalism strengthened and means-testing lessened. Adopting such a scheme would of course require a wide political debate, but it would put down a marker for the kind of society which could emerge when the crisis subsides.

2. We support the changes to social service programs as stated in RAPM’s letter to the government

    • An increase of $300 per month to the basic allowance of all the department’s programs
    • A request to not claw back the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments
    • A request to retain the new joint federal-provincial rent subsidy that is being denied people on income assistance
    • An increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour

3. We encourage the government to upgrade its action plans on poverty and pass an anti-poverty act to provide a strong enforcement to plans to end poverty.

4. We strongly suggest that the government allocate a significant portion of the provincial $200 million pandemic plan to address the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, drug addiction, HIV prevention services, housing, and the education and training systems.