August 21, 2018 2:27 pm
Updated: August 21, 2018 7:00 pm

Federal government announces ambitious plan to reduce poverty in Canada

Lofty goals but no new spending. That's the summary of the federal government's new poverty reduction strategy. Nadia Stewart has the details.

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The Trudeau government has announced its much-anticipated plan to lift millions of Canadians above the poverty line.

Within two years, the government aims to reduce the poverty rate by 20 per cent.

The target is a 50 per cent reduction in poverty by 2030.

READ MORE: Child poverty up in Canada since 1989, new research finds

Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledges that the 2030 goal is ambitious, but he believes it’s realistic if future governments follow the course the Liberals are charting.

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Ottawa plans to lift Canadians above the poverty line using three key strategies — ensuring basic needs are met, ensuring equal opportunity through, and making sure the middle class doesn’t fall below the line.

But it’s a strategy with no new investment. Instead, the government points to existing programs.

And the nation now has an official measure of poverty — the market basket measure or MBM.

It is a calculation of basic goods and services for standard living.

READ MORE: Cancellation of minimum income pilot project adds to poverty stigma

In British Columbia, the average MBM threshold for a family of four is just under $38,000 a year, according to Statistics Canada, using 2015 as the base year.

The government says it’s using MBM over Low-Income Measure (LIM) because through consultations with 600 Canadians and academics, the MBM was preferred.

What the strategy doesn’t provide are new policies or spending beyond the $22 billion in new spending already in place, such as the Canada Child Benefit, or promised, such as a rent supplement or new benefit for the working poor.
Leilani Farha, executive director of Canada Without Poverty, called the lack of new programs unfortunate, but said in a statement that the strategy “provides a solid starting point for our ongoing work” to alleviate poverty.
Jennifer Robson, an expert on social policy from Carleton University in Ottawa, said on Twitter that the absence of new spending wasn’t problematic: “This strategy names a goal and sets out a direction. What will matter is how government works with the many, many tools they have.”

Ottawa will introduce legislation later this year to meet target goals.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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