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Disruptive Times Require Skilled Changemakers

Posted by Liz Weaver in February 2019

In this paper, Liz Weaver describes three elements that every changemaker needs when approaching complex challenges - a mindset shift, an agile and adaptable approach, and knowledge and skills in each of the five interconnected practice areas.

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Moving Past the Middle

Posted by Natalie Appleyard on November 21, 2019

There are millions of people across Canada living in poverty. Yet, in this recent federal election, poverty and inequality was almost entirely ignored. Poverty in Canada is a crisis that needs to be prioritized. The fact that we do not see it this way betrays some of our deeply held beliefs about who is poor, why people are poor, and what (if any) are the responsibilities of governments and citizens to do something about it.

Some of the issues and living conditions associated with poverty and inequality did come up at times. This includes safe drinking water on reserves, affordable housing, parental leave, and the cost of living in general. The previous Liberal government did take some important first steps toward reducing poverty, though not eradicating it. Unfortunately, most of the proposals during the election focused mainly on the middle class and their experiences of these issues.

We did not hear, in contrast, how each party planned to address the disproportionate rates of poverty among Indigenous peoples, racialized groups, newcomers, people with disabilities, or singles aged 45 to 64. We did not hear how each party would move Canada towards our human rights obligations or the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite not getting a lot of airtime, there were significant sections of our newly elected government’s platform dedicated to building resilience and helping lift people out of poverty. Initiatives like a pan-Canadian framework for childcare, improvements to Employment Insurance, and continued progress on a national pharmacare plan would be further steps toward addressing poverty on a systemic level. During their last term, the Liberals took some important first steps in legislating the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the right to housing, for example. They made some notable gains in reducing poverty among children and seniors, demonstrating what is possible with targeted support and funding. There is hope that needed improvements will be made in the context of a minority government as the Liberals look to progressive parties for support.

Meanwhile, thousands of CPJ members and supporters engaged with these issues through our Election Bulletin. I was heartened by stories I heard on our Fall Election Tour of people’s ongoing advocacy and their commitment to raising these issues with their federal candidates, colleagues, congregants, and community members. Despite the parties’ relative radio silence in the media, I know many voices were raised this election season and I am grateful for the faithfulness (in multiple senses) of the CPJ community!

“We need to share not only the plight, but also the fights and insights, of people living in poverty.”

—Shailly Gupta Barnes, the Poor People’s Campaign

Chew on This! campaign to over 100 organizers across the country, with close to 17,000 postcards requested to send a message to our next prime minister calling for ambitious action to end poverty in Canada. We know those postcards will be there waiting for the re-elected Prime Minister Trudeau – and so will we, as constituents, be there to follow up on our message!

I have seen significant stories of strength and success that we can build upon. I was encouraged by Shailly Gupta Barnes of the Poor People’s Campaign in the United States who suggested that, “we need to share not only the plight, but also the fights and insights, of people living in poverty.” That is to say, we can’t just focus on the crisis, we need to capture people’s imaginations for what is possible by sharing stories of what has already been accomplished and learned through the ongoing fight for justice.

In that spirit, I look forward to building upon the success and momentum of our campaigns and engagement. In the coming months, CPJ will be building on the relationships we have with MPs and ministers from our previous government, as well as leveraging the need to cooperate with MPs of all parties in a minority government context.

Much more is needed to address the systemic injustices of our current systems, pushing us past our concerns for the middle class alone and considering also those most deeply entrenched in poverty. Honouring the rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples, for example, will be key to addressing the many ways in which people on and off reserve face disproportionate barriers to economic security, food security, health, and general well-being.

I remain hopeful that we can seize this moment to work with MPs of all parties to push us past half-hearted measures and effect real change that benefits more than just the middle class. As we envision a just transition to a greener economy, we have a tremendous opportunity to put sustainability and equity at the core of our systems, rather than seeing them as fringe interests. I invite each of us to share in the plight, fights, and insights of our pan-Canadian community so that together, we can build the power needed to win real systemic change and end poverty in Canada.

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New Study Shows Canada Child Benefit Provides Additional Benefit for Food Security

Posted by Justin Williams on November 20, 2019

A new study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine from the University of Toronto finds that, since the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), there is a 1/3 reduction in severe food insecurity for low-income families.

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Community Engagement: Is it Just Lip Service?

Posted by Glenda Cooper on November 19, 2019

Is Community Engagement just lip service or is it empowerment? Is it simply a box to check or a meaningful enquiry? Do we focus on soliciting input to justify our programs and initiatives or do we genuinely seek guidance from the community about how best to serve them? With limited resources, tight timelines and pressure to get things done, it can be overwhelming to think about opening processes up; especially since that could lead to surprises and results that contradict convention. Yet, every time we engage the community we have the opportunity to learn and shape the work in ways that will be meaningful, practical and implementable.

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Latest Welfare Rates and How They Compare to Poverty Measures

Posted by Maytree on November 18, 2019

This article was originally published at

Today, Maytree is releasing Welfare in Canada, 2018, the latest update of a yearly series showing the total income households on social assistance would have received (i.e., their income from social assistance alongside tax credits and child benefits). The report looks at how welfare incomes varied across every province and territory for four example households in 2018:

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Cities Reducing Poverty Policy Digest: November 2019

Posted by Elle Richards on November 16, 2019

Welcome to the November 2019 edition of the Cities Reducing Poverty Policy Digest, which aims to provide you with timely poverty-related policy updates and resources from across Canada. 

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10 Things to Know About Poverty Measurement in Canada

Posted by Nick Falvo on November 8, 2019

This article was originally published at

On October 29, I gave a guest presentation to Professor Filipe Duarte’s master’s seminar class at the University of Windsor. The topic of my presentation was poverty measurement in Canada.

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