EDMONTON- Edmonton city councillors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a new strategy aimed at eliminating poverty in Alberta’s capital.
The vote followed a presentation by the EndPovertyEdmonton Task Force in which it unveiled its final report on the plan.
The report details 28 priority recommendations, six of which are described as ‘game changers,’ developed through two years of consultations with the public and stakeholders.
“The 22 members of our task force are pleased that council has shown faith and confidence in our strategy,” said Bishop Jane Alexander in a release, co-chair of EndPovertyEdmonton. “But now, the next stage of work begins in completing our road map that will guide our actions over the next 10 years and set us down the path to achieving our bold goal of eliminating poverty in our city.”
The task force presented its initial strategy to council in September, before embarking on a final round of consultations. At the time, Mayor Don Iveson spoke passionately about why a plan to end poverty was so important to him.
“Poverty affects the lives of more than 100,000 Edmontonians every day, including 33,000 children. That’s not acceptable,” said Iveson.
The 22 members of the task force heard from over 3,000 Edmontonians through open houses, stakeholder engagement sessions and an online survey. EndPovertyEdmonton said the input, including from those who experience poverty, demonstrated there was broad support for establishing priorities on housing, education and collaborative community engagement.
The consultations also prompted the task force to make some changes to the strategy:
-Ensuring that addictions and mental health services are addressed together
-Acknowledging that immigrants and refugees, those with abilities challenges, and age and gender groupings all experience discrimination
-Ensuring that the needs of youth at risk and isolated seniors are addressed in the implementation road map
In a release, the mayor, who is also co-chair of the EndPovertyEdmonton task force, expressed excitement about the plan being implemented.
“A coalition is building, and we are helping to incubate the movement,” said Iveson.”City council’s unanimous support of the strategy and advocacy to other orders of government in its implementation, offers opportunities to reinvigorate their collaboration with the indigenous and newcomer communities.”
The six key policy recommendations made by the task force, dubbed ‘game changes’ by task force members, are:
-Accessible and affordable transit
-Affordable and quality child care
-Access to mental health service
The task force said its plan differs from other similar plans in that its ultimate goal is to actually eliminate poverty rather than simply to manage it. EndPovertyEdmonton said it will still make some minor changes to its 10-year plan before its final report is presented to city council for approval in the spring of 2016.