OTTAWA – The federal government is turning to public consultations to help craft a poverty reduction strategy.
Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos also plans to use the expertise of an advisory committee on poverty to produce a national proposal that the Liberals expect to deliver by this fall.
The advisory committee will be made up of experts from academia, business and social services, as well as people who have lived with poverty. It will act as sounding board to test ideas that emerge from the public consultations on ways to help those living in need.
Duclos said the work of the committee, as well as similar consultations being undertaken by a panel of MPs, is needed to finally build a federal vision on poverty reduction.
“As a former academic who has worked quite a lot on poverty reduction, I have seen the difficulties created by a lack of vision on poverty reduction from the federal government,” Duclos said.
“The federal government needs to design how first it views poverty — how it measures it, how it’s going to monitor the progress in reducing it and how it’s going to collaborate with other governments in order to better support our families living in need and to encourage them to enter the middle class. All of that has been missing.”
The announcement Monday came as the Liberals finalized a national housing strategy designed to help make housing more affordable and reduce homelessness. That plan will be out after the forthcoming federal budget, which will also outline more details on infrastructure spending, some of which Duclos oversees.
The housing strategy is seen as the backbone to the anti-poverty plan and is designed to make housing more affordable.
It’s estimated that some three million Canadians live in poverty and 235,000 experience homelessness annually.
The social infrastructure fund has allocated $2.3 billion over two years to help build and refurbish affordable housing units, child care spaces and seniors residences, among other eligible projects. While the money targeted to large cities like Toronto has been allocated to projects, the same cannot be said of funding elsewhere.
A report earlier this month from the parliamentary budget office found that departments and agencies have allocated $427 million to 1,889 projects. Among the projects approved were First Nations housing and health facilities on reserve, upgrades to community centres and outdoor recreation areas across the country.
The current funding agreements require the infrastructure money to flow through provinces and territories before landing in cities and Duclos hinted Monday that might change in the upcoming federal budget, saying that stakeholders, provinces and territories have provided ideas on “how to engage the federal government differently.”