Canada: Canada’s Federal Government is assembling a National Advisory Council on Poverty
Picture credit to: Opportunity for All (Government of Canada)
Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development for the Canadian Federal Government, has launched a call for applications to assemble a so-called National Advisory Council on Poverty. This council will be comprised of experts in poverty-related issues, and “people who have lived experienced or are currently living in poverty (…) indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities and other vulnerable groups”. The purpose is, not only having actual experience of poverty in the group, but also for it to be “representative of Canada’s linguistic, gender and regional diversity.”
This advisory group will be responsible for giving advice about programs and funding strategies which can contribute to poverty reduction, as well as produce a yearly report with detailed information on how poverty reduction goals are being met, according to agreed metrics. On top of that, the group shall also engage the public, including the academic community, several experts, indigenous people and others which experience or have experienced poverty. Applications to work with the group can be done online, until the 29th of January 2019.
The creation of this Council derives from the overarching Program “Opportunity for All”, a Canadian Federal Government initiative which it considers Canada’s first poverty reduction strategy. According to the Program’s website, the purpose of “Opportunity for All is to eradicate poverty because we are all better off when no one is left behind. Opportunity for All supports a human rights-based approach to poverty reduction, reflecting principles that include universality, non-discrimination and equality, participation of those living in poverty, accountability and working together.” It may be worth mentioning that “universality” is only mentioned on this one occasion throughout the explanation of the whole program, but nonetheless it is clearly stated here. Furthermore, the Program states that:
“Opportunity for All is about working together to end poverty so that all Canadians can live with dignity, have real and fair access to opportunities to succeed, and be resilient enough to get through difficult times. Living with dignity means that Canadians would be living without hunger and would have enough income to meet their basic needs (…)”
Although basic income is not mentioned, the reference to a universal “all Canadians” linked with “enough income to meet their needs” might point in the direction of some unconditional cash transfer program as one of the tools for poverty reduction in Canada. That would be aligned with Jean-Yves Duclos recent statements on the subject. Furthermore, the Program is based an a civic approach to problem-solving, since consultation was done to the wider population:
“Opportunity for All is guided by the thousands of voices we have heard and, in particular, the voices of those with lived experience of poverty. Canadians told us that poverty is complex, that different groups experience different risks of poverty and different challenges in getting out of poverty, and that reducing it requires a long-term commitment as well as calls for a coordinated approach with diverse groups—government and non-government alike. Canadians told us that the Strategy must contribute to a national effort to reduce poverty. It must also recognize that when some members of our communities cannot reach their full potential, we are all affected. More specifically, Canadians have said that the Poverty Reduction Strategy should be about:
Dignity – Lifting Canadians out of poverty by ensuring everyone’s basic needs are met;
Opportunity and Inclusion – Helping Canadians join the middle class by promoting full participation in society and equality of opportunity;
Resilience and Security – Supporting the middle class by protecting Canadians from falling into poverty and by supporting income security and resilience.”
Again, focusing on the needs of everyone, ensuring the full participation of all people in society and creating a solid ground so that no one falls into poverty, suggests a basic income type of policy, without explicitly mentioning it. This could mean that the National Advisory Council on Poverty will study or consider basic income somehow within its mandate, although no direct information exists to confirm it, at this moment.
More information at:
André Coelho, “Canada: Ontario’s basic income experiment ended, but the ground is fertile for more pilots”, Basic Income News, December 22nd 2018
Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy website