What do we know about the state of homelessness in Canada today? The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness aimed to find out in their new research paper titled ‘The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016.’
Canada experienced a rise in homelessness after federal investments in affordable housing declined and providing emergency services has not proven to be effective in dealing with our homelessness crisis. The face of homelessness in Canada is also changing, e.g. a much higher proportion of the homeless population are women or youth.
Promising initiatives have emerged e.g., the spread of the Housing First model across Canada, ambitious housing efforts in Medicine Hat and Hamilton, federal interest and investment in housing and homelessness, and the revitalization of a National Housing Strategy. We know that upstream approaches are needed, and ending homelessness in Canada requires partnerships across public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. The report includes a set of 8 recommendations, including a call for a national housing benefit and to review and expand investment in affordable housing for Indigenous peoples. The authors estimate that eliminating homelessness in Canada would only require an additional investment of $1/week per Canadian.
The report and supplementary documents can be found here: http://homelesshub.ca/SOHC2016
October 17th was celebrated as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Poverty Free Saskatchewan, in conjunction with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and the Regina Food Bank, held a press conference and call for improvements in addressing poverty in our province.
Canada (including our province of Saskatchewan) is a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is therefore obligated to uphold its recommendations. Saskatchewan released its Poverty Reduction Strategy earlier this year, but an actual plan to implement specific recommendations has not yet been done. Unfortunately, since the strategy was released the province has not expanded social and economic benefits and protections, and has actually further cut social, health and education programs that support our most vulnerable citizens.
CBC article on the press conference: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-groups-mark-international-day-for-the-eradication-of-poverty-1.3808903
Coverage in the Regina Leader-Post: http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/austerity-policies-are-counterproductive-in-tough-economic-times-regina-anti-poverty-ministry
The PFS media release pfs-media-release-oct-16-2016-final
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.
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.
Almost half of Saskatchewan residents who are working are living paycheck to paycheck. A recent poll of Canadians by the Canadian Payroll Association found 48 per cent of Saskatchewan employees feel that it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque was delayed by a week.
Peter Gilmer from the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and Poverty Free Saskatchewan’s steering committee is quoted in the article from the Regina Leader-Post.
Brenda Ives, from the Poverty Free Saskatchewan steering committee, was recently interviewed for a CBC article about rural poverty. Ives has been an important contributor to poverty reduction efforts in Tisdale; the community was announced as one of the six test sites for the potential federal poverty reduction strategy.
The experience of poverty in rural communities is different than that of urban communities (which is better known). For example, rural communities tend to lack public transportation and have reduced access to affordable rental housing.
Link to article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/poverty-tisdale-transportation-housing-2016-1.3748735
From the CBC: the federal government has announced it has selected six communities across Canada to test ideas for a potential national poverty reduction strategy. Tisdale, SK will be a case study for the project and will provide a rural perspective.
Poverty Free Saskatchewan responds to the provincial government’s recently announced funding cuts to social expenditures. The planned reductions to the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan, Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability, the Seniors Income Plan, the Guaranteed Income Supplement will be harmful to the most vulnerable residents of the province.
To see the full PFS press release, click on the following link: Poverty Free Saskatchewan Media Release August 15 2016 FINAL.
PFS conducted an analysis of the effects of the latest provincial budget, Budget 2016: Transformation or Austerity? which can be viewed here: budget_2016_PFS (2)
A basic income pilot project is being called for by Senator Art Eggleton and the Ontario government included a proposal in its recent budget.