This is the March 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.
Key highlights include significant federal and provincial achievements in poverty reduction based on data released by Statistics Canada from the 2017 Canadian Income Survey, Manitoba’s renewed poverty reduction strategy, and British Columbia’s 2019 budget investments for poverty reduction.
National Policy Updates:
- On March 7th, ESDC reported that Canada’s current poverty rate of 9.5 percent is the lowest in history based on Canada’s Official Poverty Line. With the help of programs such as the Canada Child Benefit and the top-up to the Guaranteed Income Supplement, there were 825,000 fewer Canadians living in poverty in 2017 than there were in 2015.
Updates by Province and Territory:
- On Feb 27, the Government of Alberta issued a release that Stats Canada figures show that the child poverty rate dropped by 50 per cent between 2015 and 2017 in Alberta, from 10 per cent to five per cent, thanks to the Alberta Child Benefit and other poverty-reduction strategies.
- Budget 2019 is creating opportunities for all British Columbians by delivering a new B.C. Child Opportunity Benefit for kids up to the age of 18, removing interest from B.C. student loans, investing in a homelessness action plan, increasing social assistance rates and more.
- British Columbians are invited to share their views until March 31st, before the government makes changes to modernize B.C.’s Employment Standards Act.
- On March 4, Pathways to a Better Future: Manitoba’s Poverty Reduction Strategy was released with the goal to reduce the provincial child poverty rate by 25 percent by 2025.
- The provincial government announced that the minimum wage will increase to $11.50 per hour on April 1, from the current rate of $11.25 per hour.
- The Government of New Brunswick’s Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation (ESIC) has launched public consultations from February-April 2019 to update their poverty reduction strategy, Overcoming Poverty Together The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
- As of April 1, 2019, the minimum wage will rise to $11.40 and the minimum overtime wage rate will be $17.10.
- Employment in Nova Scotia reached a new high of 466,500 this February according to Statistics Canada. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell to 6.4 per cent, its lowest recorded level since modern labour force surveys began in 1976.
- Children and families will have improved access to child care from a $2.4 million investment that will create more than 750 new spaces. Funding for these spaces and other investments come from a three-year, $35 million early learning and child care funding agreement with the federal government that was signed in January 2018.
- National Housing Strategy Co-Investment funding “carve off” of $60 million has the potential to bring in significant investments help address all aspects of housing in the Northwest Territories, from homelessness to affordable homeownership.
- The Nunavut Food Security Coalition is now accepting funding proposals for projects addressing food security in Nunavut for the fiscal year 2019-2020.
- Reminder to income assistance recipients to complete income tax returns.
- Ontario’s Basic Income pilot participant baseline survey results shared by the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction; offers a snapshot into participants’ lives when they signed up for Basic Income.
- Ontario Employment grows by 36,900 jobs in February.
Prince Edward Island:
- The province is investing $540,000 through the Housing Action Plan to stimulate the private development of 24 new affordable homes for seniors and families in western Prince Edward Island.
- The provincial and federal governments are jointly making a multi-million dollar investment to construct new supportive housing units in Charlottetown.
- Employment rose by 14,900 in Quebec (+ 0.3%) in February 2019 compared to January 2019. The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point and fixed at 5.3%.
- The Government of Quebec announces a financial assistance of $ 480,899 for the realization of projects within the framework of the Financial Support Program to Foster Parent Involvement.
- Government provides $1.5 million in funding to create Early Years Family Resource Centres in seven communities: The Battlefords, Meadow Lake, Moose Jaw, Nipawin, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and one in the North.
- Nearly 130 more licensed child care centre spaces have been allocated in Saskatoon, Delisle, Regina, Moose Jaw and Humboldt. Funding is being provided through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement.
- Budget 2019 focuses on affordable housing, effective health and social services, quality education, and reliable community infrastructure.
The Latest Policy Resources and Perspectives:
- How policy-makers can help Canadians build financial security – Maytree's Opinion piece.