The government of Canada is showing its commitment to fighting poverty by developing and implementing Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Canada’s focus on a modern approach to the problem of poverty should be an example to many other countries.
Overview of Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy
Approximately five million Canadians currently live in poverty, and poverty costs Canada between $72 and $84 billion each year. Canada has an opportunity to improve the quality of life of its citizens and also stimulate its economy through the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy included three initial steps:
- Consulting with Canadians in every area of the country on the issue of poverty
- Creating a Ministerial Advisory Committee on Poverty that includes a combination of experts as well as people who have experienced poverty themselves.
- Conducting the Tackling Poverty Together project— a research project that will look at six different communities across Canada.
Consulting Canadians on Poverty
The first step in Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy was to consult people from all areas of the country and all walks of life. This phase included a combination of meetings with local governments as well as online forums and town halls so that all Canadian citizens were given an opportunity to be heard. The use of online tools to engage more people in the conversation is a great example of leveraging modern technology to help find solutions for complex problems like poverty.
Establishing an Advisory Committee
Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy includes an advisory board of 17 leaders from academia, business and beyond. The advisory group also includes members that have experienced poverty themselves. This is an important reminder that any decision-making body should include those who have lived experience with the topic being considered. The advisory board will discuss issues pertaining to poverty and give advice to the Canadian government.
The Canadian government has also conducted a case-study in six different communities across Canada to look at what can be done to lift people out of poverty. The final report made key conclusions about what Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy needs to focus on moving forward. Many other countries can learn from Canada’s findings. The conclusions were as follows:
- There is a strong and ongoing need for federal government support to help Canadians get out of poverty.
- The Canada Child Benefit and Guaranteed Income Supplement are making a big difference.
- The federal government offers other important programs that could be helping, but very few people are aware of them.
- Many people cannot access the support they need because of how some programs are designed and delivered.
- Canadians were unanimous that there is a need for more support in different areas, and by different levels of government, to help people overcome poverty.
An Innovative Way Forward In the Fight Against Poverty
Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy should be an example to the world on how to create a cohesive, modern and organized strategy for fighting poverty. However, poverty is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Powerful governments like that of the United States and organizations like the United Nations have the opportunity to aid the reduction of global poverty. One way they can do this is by making sure developing countries have the resources they need to implement their own poverty reduction strategies.
– Aaron Childree