What we heard about poverty reduction

Executive summary

As a whole, Canada remains among the best places in the world in which to live. However, too many Canadians live in poverty. This is why the Government made a commitment to develop a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that would set targets to reduce poverty in Canada and measure and publicly report on progress.

In February 2017, Employment and Social Development Canada launched a consultation process to inform the development of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Although Canada’s economy continues to show signs of strength, job creation and growth, we heard that many Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet and satisfy basic needs. Essential things, such as providing for the needs of one’s children or taking care of one’s health, are simply out of reach for some people.

Many participants told us that stable and quality jobs can be hard to find in some communities and regions, whether they are entering the labour market for the first time or re-entering. Canadians also made it clear that poverty is about more than simply not having enough income—it can also be about discrimination in all its forms, the challenges of physical or mental illness and working hard to reach and stay in the middle class. We also heard some Canadians find paying for a place to live challenging, and that Canada needs better and more affordable housing.

We reached out to individuals for whom we knew there were existing challenges, namely vulnerable seniors, youth, women, the LGBTQ2 community, visible minorities, newcomers, persons with disabilities, single parents and unattached individuals aged 45 to 64. We heard that the Poverty Reduction Strategy should acknowledge the challenges faced by these groups and contain policies and/or supports specifically targeted for them.

Many First Nations, Inuit and Métis participants told us that colonialism, racism and inter-generational trauma have made poverty worse in their communities and for their people in towns and cities across Canada. We heard that we need to rebuild or restore nation-to-nation relationships to help ensure a better future, through reconciliation and greater recognition of First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, and by working together in practical ways to help overcome challenges and barriers.

We heard that many Canadians are not accessing the government programs and services that are available to them, either due to lack of awareness of their eligibility or obstacles encountered during application processes.

Consultation participants also shared with us their vision for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, indicating that the Government should set ambitious and measurable targets.

The analysis conducted for the drafting of this report has informed the initial stages of the development of the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy and will continue to do so as we work towards the release of the Strategy.

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