- Report from the Poverty Reduction Summit
Our Executive Director, Rupert Downing is attending the Poverty Reduction Summit in Ottawa with over 300 people from community groups, municipalities, business and government agencies across Canada. Here is his report on the opening day.
Paul Born of Tamarack Institute opened our three day learning event and was joined by Alan Broadbent who called “poverty our national shame”. He reminded us that poverty is socially constructed, and it can be deconstructed. He called on cities to take on a leadership role in action on poverty, in advocacy to other levels of government to stop the growing social deficit, and in their own actions to invest in affordable housing, transit, living wage employment and procurement policies.
Stephen Huddart of the McConnell Family Foundation called for an emphasis on a “solutions economy” one that suborned profits to social and human well being, and a new public policy emphasis on “social productivity”.
Ontario’s Deputy Premier, and Minister responsible for poverty reduction, (Hon. Deb Matthews) announced their $50 m poverty reduction fund that will invest in community action over the next 6 years.
The recently elected Mayor of the City of Edmonton, Don Iveson, talked about the power of citizen led change, reflecting on the Alberta election result. The Poverty Elimination Plan in Edmonton grew out of the Homelessness Reduction Plan, and involved building a big tent for engagement of all sectors and parts of the community. He spoke to the economic imperative of reducing poverty, it is the best means of making public services affordable and sustainable e.g. the costs of poverty in health care, policing and incarceration. Policing is the highest municipal cost in Edmonton. Business also supports the plan because the more participation in employment, and the better incomes people have, the more local people have money to buy local goods and services. They don’t want people in distress on the streets. The Return on Investment on poverty reduction is long term (“generational”) but worth it. Mayor Iveson also talked passionately about the relationship between trauma and poverty. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission work in Edmonton on healing wounds of Aboriginal and First Nations people has been critical and this will be a continued priority of the City going forward. The Mayor was greeted with a standing ovation.
We will post links to session videos when available.
Rupert Downing, Executive Director
Community Social Planning Council