March 16, 2016 8:17 pm
Updated: March 18, 2016 7:34 am

‘Poverty is a human rights violation:’ Saskatchewan anti-poverty groups want political parties to respond

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REGINA – Every political party was called out Wednesday by a coalition of Saskatchewan’s anti-poverty groups who say poverty is a human rights violation.

“Why are we seeing homelessness growing in this province?” Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry advocate Bonnie Morton asked.

It’s one of many questions poverty elimination groups such as Poverty Free Saskatchewan and Regina Education & Action on Child Hunger (REACH) want answered this election.

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In doing so, they’ve come up with a list of questions ranging from party’s plans regarding the minimum wage, to expanding social housing and whether parties will support a food security strategy to end poverty.

“I don’t know about any of you but anytime I go to the store it’s getting like ‘Hmm, I can’t have that piece of fruit now because I just can’t afford it’,” Morton added.

“We’re asking the general public to ask these questions to the candidates that come to their door,” REACH executive director Dana Folkersen said.

The Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry wants poverty on the election radar, pointing to the province’s missed opportunity to make a difference during the economic boom years.

“During that 5 year period we also saw the largest growth of food bank usage in Canada,” Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry advocate Peter Gilmer said.

Saskatchewan’s poverty rate has decreased from 14% in 2006 to 10.6% today with investments in housing and income assistance benefits.

But a single parent with two kids on social assistance still receives a max general living allowance of $966 and advocates criticize that number hasn’t increased in 9 years, leaving some families stuck in the holes of Saskatchewan’s social safety net.

“I do not know one person whose walked through my door and said ‘God, poverty looks great I aspire to be poor can you help me do that, what we get from them is can you help us get out of it’,” Morton said.

The Sask Party is defending their record by highlighting their poverty reduction strategy, but the NDP says a report isn’t good enough and if elected, they’ll implement a basic income pilot program.

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