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 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
Released on November 14, 2016
Changes proposed to Income Assistance programs will not be implemented as announced earlier this year, while the province proceeds to review and redesign its programs to better serve those in need.The 2,700 clients who received letters from Social Services this summer will not have their benefits impacted as a result of these policy changes until such time as their individual circumstances change (for example, they move). The program changes will continue to apply to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances change.“Our government has listened to the concerns of those who would have been affected by these changes, and we have decided against implementing them for existing clients,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said. “I know that this period of uncertainty has been difficult for people, and I thank them for their patience.“We are committed to ensuring that our programs serve those in greatest need, that they are effective, and that they are sustainable. To that end, we will be focusing our efforts on reviewing and redesigning our Income Assistance programs to support those who need them most and help people participate in the economic and social life of our province.”
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:
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.
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
Today Saskatchewan Social Services announced the formation of a committee to develop its poverty reduction strategy.
See the media release http://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2014/december/22/eleven-help-reduce-poverty
PFS has outlined the need for a comprehensive plan when the government develops its poverty reduction strategy
See our media release of December 18, 2014.
A family of 4 with a children 4 and 7 years need $58,000 per year to live on. Minimum wage provides about $34,000. The graphics in the report tell the story. View entire report at .https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/living-wage-regina
Paul Gingrich, Simon Enoch, and Brian Banks worked on this document.
A Living Wage for Regina is $16.46/per hour.
While Saskatchewan’s economy has outperformed the rest of the country for the past few years, many underserved groups have not benefitted from the province’s economic expansion. The adoption of a Living Wage by Saskatchewan municipalities and employers would offer a chance to more equally share the benefits of a booming economy. The income security derived from the Living Wage benefits not only workers, but their families as well, improving health and child development outcomes. Moreover, the Living Wage can be a boon to local business, drastically reducing absenteeism and employee turnover, enhancing brand reputation and customer loyalty and providing privileged access to a new market of Living Wage employers. Lastly, the Living Wage can improve the health of our local economies by injecting much-needed income into the hands of low-income earners who will immediately turn around and purchase local goods and services.
We know that the costs to adopt the Living Wage are negligible and are far outweighed by the positive impacts on our families, business and communities. Adopting a Living Wage is one way we can restore a measure of fairness and dignity to our economic system. We hope that this initial report on the Living Wage for the City of Regina can spark a successful Living Wage movement throughout Saskatchewan.
View the full release here:
Simon Enoch, PhD
G-2835 13th Avenue
(306) 924 3372
Canada Without Poverty lists work being done in Canada to address poverty. Poverty Progress Profile Scroll down the page to see where Saskatchewan is listed. If you click on Saskatchewan there is a discussion of the Saskatchewan government’s document “From Dependence to Independence” and content related to the work of Poverty Free Saskatchewan.