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What will success look like in a Poverty Reduction Strategy? How should we measure our progress?

over 2 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

The Government of Canada recognizes that accountability matters in its commitment to reduce poverty in Canada. To meet this commitment, it will be important to build partnerships, establish clear targets, report on progress and identify what is successful and what is not.

While poverty reduction target could be chosen using one of Statistics Canada’s existing low-income measures, Canada could explore improving the existing measures to make them more accurate or introduce a completely new measure.

More information on delivering and reporting on results is available in chapter 3 of the discussion guide.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded

  • Dietitians of Canada over 2 years ago
    As the Minister and staff review the public input and prepare to draft the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Canada, Dietitians of Canada urges the Department to recognize as critical and essential, the annual measurement of household food insecurity in all provinces and territories, for all vulnerable populations. Currently, provinces and territories must decide which variables they will choose for measurement by CCHS and unfortunately food insecurity is an optional module in some cycles. While the measure of food insecurity does not in itself address the root cause of food insecurity, it will be a sensitive marker that assists governments in identifying their successes in poverty reduction and health promotion, concentrating on populations wherein poverty and household food insecurity continue to be experienced. A multi-pronged approach is required to address the many different reasons for income inadequacy, with a basic income guarantee most likely the best action that can address income needs. For similar responses, see also submissions from Chronic Disease Prevention Allicance of Canada and PROOF household food insecurity falls under the mandate of a poverty reduction strategy because 1. Household food insecurity is a measure that identifies problems of material disadvantage that is tightly linked to health and health care costs in ways that are above and beyond associations with income-based measures of poverty.Food insecurity erodes people’s health, setting the stage for them to develop a host of mental and physical health problems. They are less able to manage chronic health conditions and PROOF research has shown that over the course of a year, Ontario adults in severely food-insecure households consume 2.5 times the health-care dollars of those who are food-secure. The effects are above and beyond those associated with income, education, or other social determinants of health. These findings show both the extraordinary health problems associated with food insecurity in Canada and the high costs associated with the problem, and2. Income-based policies can reduce food insecurity. Income-based policies (e.g. seniors’ benefits, provincial actions to reduce poverty) that improve the material circumstances of food insecure households have been shown to reduce the prevalence and severity of food insecurity. Improvements to the adequacy of social assistance (i.e. welfare) and benefits to families with children can also have a positive impact. The newly launched Canada Child Benefit should be evaluated against its effect on food insecurity to ensure that it is designed to optimize impact. Policies targeting households reliant on employment income (i.e. employment insurance, employment benefits and workplace policies to reduce precarious work, working tax benefits and credits) could also be designed to address food insecurity. Research shows that ensuring adequate household income is essential to reducing food insecurity. This can perhaps best be accomplished through the implementation of a basic income, guaranteeing an income floor below which we do not allow Canadians to fall.3. There is limited evidence that in-kind supports can address food insecurity. A variety of community-based food programs (e.g. food banks, meal programs, community gardens, alternative food retail systems, and programs to improve food shopping and preparation skills) have been launched to improve household food security. But studies of these efforts indicate that they lack the capacity to alter households’ food insecurity and the extreme material deprivation that defines their circumstances. Research also shows that affordable housing, as it is currently structured (i.e. 30% of income going to housing), does not compensate for the very low incomes of eligible households. A recent study found that half of households living in subsidized housing across the country were food insecure, with almost one-quarter reporting moderate food insecurity, and one in five being severely food insecure. Findings suggest that strategies to increase the stock of affordable housing are unlikely to improve household food security unless they also ensure that the amount of money left after rent is sufficient for households to meet other basic needs, including food. Thus, the reduction of household food insecurity should be a goal of all anti-poverty policies/initiatives, and a national poverty reduction strategy must ensure annual monitoring of household food insecurity in all provinces/territories using the Household Food Security Survey Module through such surveys as the Canadian Community Health Survey. This module should serve as a key indicator of progress for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. - submitted by Dietitians of Canada
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    • jptaylor over 2 years ago
      I strongly support this statement by Dietitians of Canada. It is essential that all jurisdictions are required to monitor this potent indicator of health and poverty annually. We know that provinces who have moved away from progressive policies have opted out of measuring household food security; without mandatory monitoring, it is not possible to track impact of positive initiatives, or identify those that are having a negative impact on food security. Secondly, it is also important to ensure that adequate sample sizes are achieved: I live in a small province where it has been difficult to obtain reliable estimates, and it is not possible to identify differences in food insecurity according to important determinants such as source of income. It is essential that we use household food insecurity as a metric to assess the impact of any anti-poverty policies and programs.
  • Sheikh Adil Zubair almost 3 years ago
    You can measure your progress regarding poverty reduction, by ratio of unemployment level. If unemployment will be lesser in number then we can say that your are going to implement best strategies for poverty reduction.
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    • 501130 over 2 years ago
      What about the working poor? People with 2 or more part-time minimum wage jobs with no health benefits living below the poverty line (LICO).
  • Dietitians of Canada over 2 years ago
    From Dietitians of Canada: Household food insecurity must be an outcome indicator - it's a very sensitive marker for intermittent income insecurity and can distinguish by degrees, from marginal to moderate to severe food insecurity. The big problem: inconsistent data!!!! CCHS considers the measurement of food insecurity to be optional. For example, Ontario, Yukon and Newfoundland all opted out of the 2015-16 cycle. Thankfully, it appears all prov/terrs will have food insecurity data for 2017-18. (one reason for opting out has been that the rates of food insecurity don't change much - they continue to be over 10% on average!) During the time of the new implementation of the Federal Poverty Reduction Strategy, it is IMPERATIVE that we have pan-Canadian data on food insecurity - to measure the reductions. Not until food insecurity is virtually eliminated, should Canada consider measurement of food insecurity to be an optional matter. Please refer to the work of PROOF for food insecurity surveillance - they measure marginal as well as moderate and severe food insecurity, whereas Stats Can only measures moderate and severe. Marginal food insecurity is associated with higher health care costs too.... it's important!
  • michael kerr over 2 years ago
    Any national effort, any strategy, any plan, any policy or any program developed to deal with poverty and its reduction or elimination - has to take a differentiated approach. It must acknowledge and specifically address the unique and different circumstances and lived realities of each of the historically disadvantaged and systematically marginalized groups in Canada - First Peoples, peoples of colour, single mothers, persons with (dis)abilities, LGBTQ community members, single adults, and youth - and the intersections of these ! So any federal initiative need track each of these groups over time - with appropriate data capture tools, techniques and templates - in order to determine and best ensure that all groups of people are in fact benefiting from any and all of the interventions - and doing do equitably !!
  • Samie 55 almost 3 years ago
    Success will be just in one word affordability where citizens of this country will be able to provide for their basic needs from their own pockets.This will in turn reflect a stronger economy an a better outlook on the cost of living of this country. This will result in a decline in recipients of Social Assistance etc.
  • Lisa Zigler almost 3 years ago
    Yes, we need to develop a wide variety of indicators that will point to movement in the right direction. For example, are more people housed then before in places they feel safe in and which they can afford? Are more people able to access services and support? Are waiting times for services and for health care deceasing? Are clients telling us that they feel better, both physically and mentally? We also need to measure outcomes. Have we seen changes that we set out to change? If so, how can these changes be maintained over the long term. If not, what else can we do? Who can we learn from. All of the pieces of this puzzle need to come together to measure the impact of efforts to reduce poverty.
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    • Slee almost 3 years ago
      But how do you measure outcomes based on clients if you don't know who the clients should be?For example - Ontario has a major housing problem for not only poor but lower middle income people - working or not.The government sets up parameters for itself that declare 30% of income should be the maximum paid for shelter. They do this based on their own policies for social housing geared to income where that percentage is used.The promise of a new social housing project means in ten years 50 families might have a place to call home and in the meantime, we will have added another ten thousand to the waiting list and others will be forced off as a result of being transient - others still as a result of death.The government uses the waiting list to declare stats on housing needs and poverty - but those stats downplay the need because only a fraction of those who need help with housing will show up on that list. What about those who pay 30-70% of their income on shelter costs - rental- far above the government parameters, who aren't on waiting lists? The government offers no consistent, clear policy, or mandate on rent subsidies that would help those people get ahead. So in essence if 5 million people are struggling to pay rent, but only 1 million apply and are placed on a ten year waiting list for social housing, we pay attention and measure the outcome of the 1/5 but don't address or acknowledge the other 4/5 who while struggling daily to survive, may be the very same people unable to secure an economic future for themselves, become the next wave put on social housing wait lists. Rent subsidies in conjunction with social housing would be a quick two part process to not only reduce poverty but provide a more accurate tool of measurement. If we don't address all of the people in the same position - we are not addressing the issues of poverty in all sectors of the population.
  • Dietitians of Canada almost 3 years ago
    Elimination of household food insecurity requires secure, adequate income for all households to be able to pay for housing, food and other basic living expenses. Government policies can promote income security through basic income guarantees, employment policies, income transfers and tax subsidies, exemptions and credits. Social assistance and disability pension rates must provide sufficient income to pay for basic needs, including food and the extra costs of prescribed special diets. Between 2007 to 2011, there was a measured decrease in household food insecurity rates in Newfoundland, from 15.7% to 10.6% - this substantial decrease occurred when comprehensive poverty reduction measures were introduced in that province, indicative of the impact that can be achieved through systemic policy initiatives. Extending a basic income guarantee to all citizens, similar to what Canadian seniors receive through Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), could help to successfully address the cause and reduce the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity in Canada. Overall, the rate of household food insecurity among older adults between the ages of 60-64 years drops after turning 65 years and becoming eligible to receive OAS and GIS. Earlier pilot projects in Canada with basic income guarantee have indicated positive outcomes in health and education, without compromise to workforce participation.Public policy approaches that measurably reduce household food insecurity should be a part of a Canadian strategy to reduce poverty. Policy measures focusing on long-term solutions must be multi-pronged to address poverty, health equity and positive social outcomes (including affordable housing and education, access to secure employment) and sufficiently comprehensive to ensure adequate household income for basic living costs.The experience of food insecurity within one’s household at some time in the past year is likely a more accurate and sensitive indication of inadequate financial resources than typical indicators of poverty based on average annual income. Measured decreases in the prevalence of household food insecurity are an indication of successful policies that support adequate income on a consistent basis. While rising food prices and the much higher cost of food in some northern and remote regions of Canada can contribute to a household’s risk of experiencing food insecurity, all income and expense factors must be considered in the development and implementation of public policy to ensure all households will consistently have enough money to buy and/or obtain traditional/country food through hunting, fishing, gathering/growing.One way to measure success of a poverty reduction strategy would be the elimination of food insecurity.Dietitians of Canada recommends: (Recommendation #3 - Position and Recommendations on Household Food Insecurity)- Commitment to mandatory, annual monitoring and reporting of the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity in each province and territory across Canada, including among vulnerable populations. Measurement of household food insecurity must be included in impact/ outcome evaluation of strategies to reduce poverty and household food insecurity. Features of data collection and reporting should include:• mandatory annual data collection using a standardized tool such as the HFSSM, with sufficient sampling to measure the prevalence and severity of household food insecurity in vulnerable populations across all regions of Canada; some longitudinal studies would provide valuable information, in addition to cross-sectional surveillance.• regular analysis and public reporting of household food insecurity in Canada, with comprehensive detail by geographic regions and vulnerable populations, using a framework for household food insecurity categories that includes marginal food insecurity as part of the total of food insecurity and identifies severity of household food insecurity at the levels of marginal, moderate and severe food insecurity. Data analysis and reporting should be coordinated to maximize capacity to compare data from all studies.• regular evaluation of the impact of poverty reduction and other strategies to reduce household food insecurity (measured by the HFSSM) and improve selected population health indicators, with adjustments in policy to maximize reach and impact. For example, the effectiveness of government subsidy of food prices in Nutrition North Canada communities should be monitored and adjusted to ensure reduction of the alarmingly high rates of household food insecurity in these regions. • protocols for screening within in the health care system to identify household food insecurity and poverty (as well as malnutrition) among individual health system users.
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    • LegalAdvocate almost 3 years ago
      Please stop perpetrating the myth that the GIS is a form of guaranteed annual income. For seniors only living on OAS and GIS, they live well below the poverty line. If they try to work, they are only permitted to earn $3,500 for the whole year, which is peanuts, before they lose some of their GIS income.
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      • Slee almost 3 years ago
        You are correct.GIS is not guaranteed - it is tied to income and has to be applied for every year. Our poverty reduction programs mean that you have to prove you are poor and deserving and this is done through a means test based on income. I don't necessarily subscribe to any government reporting on issues such as food insecurity, primarily because for every one person you capture in the data, you cannot see the other two people who are in the same position. The reasons for that might vary but they are real.Attitude is one of the biggest challenges in addressing the issue of poverty - on the one hand we can't talk about abuses in the system if we see them - on the other hand, we refuse to acknowledge the hardships that drive people into poverty and actually work to fix them.
  • Slee almost 3 years ago
    How do we address the issue of poverty if we don't address the systematic problems of collection of data, implementation of programs and attitude toward poverty from the top down?Government data is not always accurate in that it will never capture the realities of many people who live in poverty, but who don't use food banks, do not use charity, who live multiple families in one residence, who do not show up in any census or other document as a result of being transient, who do not sign up for any government service that may be available to them. There are many reasons for people not revealing their impoverished state to any charity, community, government and these can range from shame to apathy in their own circumstance or toward society in general.We should address those issues in order to fully recognize the number of poor and disadvantaged and how we create an environment that does not benefit all poor. One way to track poverty is through individual or family income and address the need directly at the initiation point - prior to any community or charitable expenditures.Instead of making things more difficult, we should examine more simplified processes that contribute to the dignity and de-stigmatization of the poor instead of continuing a prove-your-poverty approach we have in many piece meal applications such as drug benefits, housing, transportation and so on.An example might be - Canada sets a poverty level of $30k for a family of two. John and Mary Brown file taxes and their income level is $21k. We know immediately based on their income, that they are below the Canadian poverty acceptable limit and could immediately address the issue at that point and with those individuals. Instead, we may initiate programs and processes that confuse, overwhelm and create more anxiety in people trying to find help even within their community.Funding communities may help some but we miss out on helping many more because of our approach and attitude toward poverty.
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    • NCheung almost 3 years ago
      You are completely right. We need to move away from a results based and micromanaged model to a quality focus. What is the level of quality in care these people in poverty receive? What kind of support are they able to access? What do they access? Furthermore, what are concrete indicators of poverty. It is definitely preventable, so we must have a clear idea of the indicators. Any strategy or program put in place should also focus on the quality. We don't want another EI like program where people are monitored for how quickly they process requests. Someone may process a request quickly but with little quality. We should also take into account the population demographic in terms of education because we can make programs, but the people receiving them may not understand all of the content or how to access them. So maybe, if a metric is really needed, a measure of how often a program or resource was accessed could help.