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.


International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

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:

Coverage in the Regina Leader-Post:


The PFS media release pfs-media-release-oct-16-2016-final

Poverty in the Legislature

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.

National ‘Chew On This’ Event – October 17

Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty Free Canada is organizing a campaign which will be held on October 17, 2014 to coincide with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Across Canada on the lunch hour of October 17th, food bank workers and anti-poverty advocates will be joining together to call for a Federal Anti-Poverty Plan. The group is asking the federal government for systemic change to eradicate poverty and hunger for the 833,000 people in Canada who use food banks each month and for the millions of others struggling to get by.

Instead of handing out a free lunch, volunteers for the ChewOnThis campaign are “brown bagging their call to action.” They will be handing out lunch bags marked “Chew on This!” which will contain an apple along with a magnet and postcard calling people to action to sign on to the call for a plan to end poverty.

For more information:

Media attention shows concern for poverty

The PFS report Communities Respond has received considerable media attention, showing the importance this issue has in the public eye.

Included in CBC TV 6:00 PM news.

CKOM – Saskatoon coverage.

Lead story on Global News


Regina Leader Post article – this article was on the Front page of the Leader Post today.

Communities Respond – Report Released

The Communities Respond report was released by Poverty Free Saskatchewan today.

PFS Communities Respond – Highlights, Oct 15, 2012 final

PFS Communities Respond – Summary Report, Oct 15, 2012 final

Communities Respond documents the responses of participants in a series of public consultations held in 7 Saskatchewan locations in 2011 and 2012: North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Tisdale, Nipawin and Melfort.

More than 170 participants attending the regional discussions said that it is time to move ahead on addressing poverty. People from the communities emphasized that many Saskatchewan residents are suffering greatly from the effects of poverty and this is preventing them from fully participating in our province.  Participants also identified many concrete positive actions that can be taken.

The Communities Respond report outlines the input received from the community discussions. These ideas will be used in future to develop an integrated and comprehensive poverty elimination plan. This plan will be built on the results of the community consultations, and a review of successful strategies in other provinces and in local Saskatchewan communities.

The document release is part of events in Saskatchewan and around the world honouring the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which occurs on Oct 17.