P.E.I. votes to move forward on basic income pilot

From the CBC: the P.E.I. Legislature voted this week to support a basic-income pilot project in the province, done in partnership with the federal government. All MLAs voted in favour of the motion, citing the potential benefits to health, education, crime rates, and human potential.

URL for article:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/legislature-mlas-basic-income-1.3884964

Dec 6 talk – “Poverty Reduction & the Current Sask Economic Climate”

JSGS Public Lecture ~ Poverty Reduction and the Current Saskatchewan Economic Climate – on December 6, 2016.
This event will be moderated by Dr. Daniel Béland, JSGS, and will feature a panel:
Chuk Plante, PhD Student, McGill University
Ali Abukar, Executive Director, Saskatoon Open Door Society
Caitlin Olauson, Centre for Integrative Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
Bill Mintram, Executive Director, Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre
In 2015 the Government of Saskatchewan committed to, and developed, a poverty reduction strategy. Over the course of the past year, agencies and sectors that work in communities to reduce poverty have been patiently awaiting an implementation plan for the strategy. Now faced with the current economic downturn and looming provincial budget cuts, it is time to open a conversation about how critical it is to invest in poverty reduction in times of economic decline. This conversation will capture the historical background of poverty reduction strategies in Saskatchewan and across Canada, address the economic argument for investing in poverty reduction and provide 3 distinct sector perspectives to increase awareness of how important social investment is to our province.
December 06, 2016
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Saskatoon: Prairie Room, Diefenbaker Centre, University of Saskatchewan
Regina (Video Conference): Room 210, 2 Research Drive, University of Regina
There is no cost to attend, but those interested in attending are encouraged to register as seating is limited.
Complete event details and online registration available here.
 
 

Large numbers of Sask children live in poverty

Child and Family Poverty in Saskatchewan
November 2016
by Paul Gingrich, Garson Hunter, Miguel Sanchez
http://campaign2000.ca/…/upl…/2016/11/SASKReportCard2016.pdf

Canada 2000 released national and provincial reports on November 24, 2016.

News Coverage

Global Regina news coverage “Child poverty rates in Saskatchewan higher than national average” http://globalnews.ca/news/3086534/child-poverty-rates-in-saskatchewan-higher-than-national-average/

CTV Regina newsclip http://www.ctvnews.ca/one-in-10-canadian-children-live-in-poverty-report-1.457428

Regina Leader Post article “1 in 4 Sask. children live in poverty: U of R report” http://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/one-in-four-sask-children-live-in-poverty-u-of-r-report

CTV national coverage of the situation Canada-wide “1 in 10 children live in poverty” http://www.ctvnews.ca/one-in-10-canadian-children-live-in-poverty-report-1.457428

 

Changes not applying to current situations

The following Saskatchewan Government media release indicates that changes previously announced to Social Services will not apply to current clients in their current situations, but will apply to new clients, or existing clients whose situations change (e.g. they move or become 65 years old)

Province Announces Plans for Income Assistance Programs

Released on November 14, 2016
Changes proposed to Income Assistance programs will not be implemented as announced earlier this year, while the province proceeds to review and redesign its programs to better serve those in need.The 2,700 clients who received letters from Social Services this summer will not have their benefits impacted as a result of these policy changes until such time as their individual circumstances change (for example, they move).  The program changes will continue to apply to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances change.“Our government has listened to the concerns of those who would have been affected by these changes, and we have decided against implementing them for existing clients,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.  “I know that this period of uncertainty has been difficult for people, and I thank them for their patience.“We are committed to ensuring that our programs serve those in greatest need, that they are effective, and that they are sustainable.  To that end, we will be focusing our efforts on reviewing and redesigning our Income Assistance programs to support those who need them most and help people participate in the economic and social life of our province.”

Social Services has begun the work of Income Assistance Redesign, following through on a commitment made in the Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy.  The Redesign will be based on four principles: Income Assistance is citizen-centred, simple, transparent and sustainable.

Income Assistance Redesign will not focus on the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program or on income supports for people over the age of 65.

Earlier this year, the province announced that a number of changes to its Income Assistance programs would take effect September 1 or October 1:

  • Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID): consider the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement when calculating benefits for families and people with disabilities who receive extra or “excess” living income through SAID;
  • Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and SAID: end the grandfathering provision of excess shelter benefits under both programs in communities that previously had low vacancy rates;
  • SAP and SAID: end the practice of exempting Seniors’ Income Plan (SIP) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)  top-up benefits; and
  • Saskatchewan Employment Supplement (SES): end the practice of grandfathering benefits for families with children aged 13 and over.

Beginning September 1 or October 1, these changes have been applied to new program applicants or to existing clients whose circumstances changed in such a way that their benefits would be affected: for example, they moved or began to receive income support for people over 65.

The changes simplify the programs and contribute to their sustainability.

People who have questions about their benefits are encouraged to call their Income Assistance Worker or Assured Income Specialist, or to contact the Client Service Centre at 1-866-221-5200.

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For more information, contact:

Leya Moore
Social Services
Regina
Phone: 306-787-3610
Email: leya.moore@gov.sk.ca
Cell: 306-519-7835

More companies in Saskatoon are now offering a living wage

From the CBC: the ‘living wage’ movement continues to grow in Saskatoon. Four more companies in the city are now pledging to offer a wage that would support a family of four ($16.68 or higher).

The Living Wage YXE group is encouraging more companies to offer living wages, as it can help in the fight against poverty. Offering a living wage can also have benefits for businesses, for example, “lower employee turnover and better customer service.”

The article can be found here: http://thestarphoenix.com/storyline/four-saskatoon-companies-have-pledged-to-pay-employees-a-living-wage 

State of Homelessness in Canada 2016

What do we know about the state of homelessness in Canada today? The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness aimed to find out in their new research paper titled ‘The State of Homelessness in Canada 2016.’

Canada experienced a rise in homelessness after federal investments in affordable housing declined and providing emergency services has not proven to be effective in dealing with our homelessness crisis. The face of homelessness in Canada is also changing, e.g. a much higher proportion of the homeless population are women or youth.

Promising initiatives have emerged e.g., the spread of the Housing First model across Canada, ambitious housing efforts in Medicine Hat and Hamilton, federal interest and investment in housing and homelessness, and the revitalization of a National Housing Strategy. We know that upstream approaches are needed, and ending homelessness in Canada requires partnerships across public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. The report includes a set of 8 recommendations, including a call for a national housing benefit and to review and expand investment in affordable housing for Indigenous peoples. The authors estimate that eliminating homelessness in Canada would only require an additional investment of $1/week per Canadian.

The report and supplementary documents can be found here: http://homelesshub.ca/SOHC2016

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

October 17th was celebrated as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Poverty Free Saskatchewan, in conjunction with the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and the Regina Food Bank, held a press conference and call for improvements in addressing poverty in our province.

Canada (including our province of Saskatchewan) is a signatory to the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is therefore obligated to uphold its recommendations. Saskatchewan released its Poverty Reduction Strategy earlier this year, but an actual plan to implement specific recommendations has not yet been done. Unfortunately, since the strategy was released the province has not expanded social and economic benefits and protections, and has actually further cut social, health and education programs that support our most vulnerable citizens.

CBC article on the press conference: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-groups-mark-international-day-for-the-eradication-of-poverty-1.3808903

Coverage in the Regina Leader-Post: http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/austerity-policies-are-counterproductive-in-tough-economic-times-regina-anti-poverty-ministry

CTV http://regina.ctvnews.ca/low-income-sask-families-struggle-as-food-costs-rise-1.3119412

The PFS media release pfs-media-release-oct-16-2016-final

Government of Canada poverty reduction discussion paper

The federal government released a discussion paper, titled ‘Towards a Poverty Reduction Strategy’ earlier this month. The paper includes a call to action and provides context on the issue in Canada. The discussion paper was released in advance of the government’s consultations, which are planned for 2017.

The discussion paper can be found here.

Latest Cost of Healthy Eating in Saskatchewan Report Released

How much does it cost to eat healthy in our province? The Saskatchewan Food Costing Task Group looked at the average food cost of a nutritionally adequate, balanced diet in Saskatchewan in 2015 and the report summarizing the findings was released this week.

The cost to feed a reference family of four increased from a provincial average of $218.24 per week in 2012 to $243.64 in 2015, an increase of 11.5% in only 3 years. The cost of healthy foods in the far north region of Saskatchewan is 80% higher than the provincial average.

Rising food costs are putting pressure on all residents of Saskatchewan, but especially vulnerable populations, eg. people living in poverty.

The Cost of Healthy Eating in Saskatchewan 2015 report can be used by decision makers and organizations to inform:

  • allocation of funds for nutrition programs, food grants and food allowances;
  • decisions regarding health, nutrition and social policy development and implementation;
  • further assessment and monitoring of regional barriers and cost differences affecting healthy food access; and,
  • supporting and promoting access to nutritious, safe, and personally acceptable foods.

For more information, the 2015 food costing report can be found here.

A news release about the report by Dietitians of Canada can be found here.

Infographics illustrating the results can be found here and here.

Almost half of SK employees living paycheck to paycheck

Almost half of Saskatchewan residents who are working are living paycheck to paycheck. A recent poll of Canadians by the Canadian Payroll Association found 48 per cent of Saskatchewan employees feel that it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque was delayed by a week.

Peter Gilmer from the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and Poverty Free Saskatchewan’s steering committee is quoted in the article from the Regina Leader-Post.

Article:

http://leaderpost.com/business/money/survey-finds-nearly-half-of-employees-in-saskatchewan-living-paycheque-to-paycheque