Dec 1, 2010

Poverty reduction update


Lots of developments on the Poverty Reduction front over the last two weeks. Here are a few updates:

First, last week brought news that Danny Williams is stepping down as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Personally, I’m sad to see him go. Rarely mentioned in the news reports last week about his record of accomplishments is the leadership Williams brought to the poverty reduction file, not only in Newfoundland, but nationally. Newfoundland’s Poverty Reduction Plan was among the most bold in the country, and it was driven by Williams himself. The one downside of the Newfoundland plan was that it did not embed specific targets in legislation. So hopefully it will remain a center-piece of the Newfoundland government after Williams’ departure.

Second, two weeks ago, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (the HUMA Committee) released its excellent and long-awaited final report on the federal role in poverty reduction. Its core recommendation: “We are recommending that the federal government join with the provinces to introduce an action plan for reducing poverty in Canada.” This is truly an outstanding report, and managed to find all-party support on most of its many recommendations. The full report can be downloaded here. A number of national organizations are asking people to lobby the government in support of the HUMA report’s recommendations. You can find an easy way to add you voice here (on the website of Make Poverty History).

Also two weeks ago, Food Banks Canada released its annual HungerCount report (you can find it here). Food Bank use went up 5% in BC (comparing March 2010 with March 2009), and was up 9.2% nationally.

Finally, last week also saw the release of the annual report cards on child poverty. The BC Report Card was released by First Call and SPARC BC, and can be found here. BC has now had the highest child poverty rate in Canada for seven years running.

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