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Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy adopts the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to end poverty

The targets to reduce income poverty in Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy take an important step toward the first UN Sustainable Development Goal addressed to ending poverty, but progress will fall short without all Canadian governments—not just the federal, but also provincial, and municipal governments—adopting coordinated policies to eliminate deep poverty.

The first UN Sustainable Development Goal is to “End poverty in all its forms everywhere,” and has explicit targets associated with it.

Two of these targets are particularly relevant for Canadians. They speak to ending income poverty, and are:

By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, measured as people living on less than $1.90 a day

By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy is informed by both of these targets, setting a nationally appropriate poverty line, and using it to explicitly adopt the second target. However, it addresses the first UN target only partially: offering an appropriate definition of extreme poverty, but not adopting an explicit target.

Eradicating extreme poverty will require all governments in the Canadian federation—not just the federal—to pursue consistent and coordinated policies. Significant progress will only happen with the partnership and commitment of the provinces and municipalities.

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Canada’s official poverty line: what is it? how could it be better?

Source: extracted from “Opportunity for All: Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy”, Employment and Social Development Canada. Click on image to enlarge

Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy released by Jean-Yves Duclos, the Federal Minister of Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, proposes to introduce legislation to establish an official poverty line for the country. This is an act of political courage, but the poverty line continually needs to be updated and improved.

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Ask yourself two questions while reading Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

Canada’s first “Poverty Reduction Strategy” will only prove useful if citizens take ownership, and use it to hold governments to account for reaching meaningful goals.

What is a “poverty reduction strategy”? How is it useful?

In one sense, it is surely actions taken, programs designed, monies spent. And that is how Opportunity for All — Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy begins: a list of policies, programs, and budgets that the government has undertaken, and for which politicians want to be given credit. The federal government can rightly claim that it has been pursuing a “poverty reduction strategy” from the day it was elected in October 2015.

But for citizens, whether poor, rich, or middle class, this is not good enough. A poverty reduction strategy must also be a clearly stated set of priorities that reflect our concerns; priorities that are paired with measurable targets allowing us to plot a path to somewhere better. Read more…

Ever wonder where to find the Trump Tower? Then take this “Trump Walking Tour” with me, and learn even more

Meet at the southwest corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, under the large statue across from the Hilton Hotel, the tour guide will be holding a “Social Justice Tours” sign.

That is what The Municipal Arts Society of New York website counsels, and indeed, Dan is there … Social Justice Tours being the non-profit he started three years ago, that is taking off quite nicely, nicely enough—thank you very much—to have its website hacked by someone with a Russian IP address. You might have a little trouble reaching them at socialjusticetours.com for at least the next week or so, until the volunteer IT guy gets things fixed.

But this much I could get from my web search “Social Justice Tours engages New Yorkers in critical dialogue by exposing injustice & highlighting inequality in an effort to encourage thought & inspire action.” So who better than to run a Jane’s Walk—the grassroots celebration of the famous urban activist Jane Jacobs—called Trump Walking Tour.

Sounds like the walking tour for me. Last week a tourist on 5th Avenue gingerly approached me in halting English to ask for directions to”Tower Trump?”, so maybe I should know a bit more about Trump’s New York than just simple directions when standing a half a block away from the famed (sometimes inflamed) building.

This is a tour about Trump history, not Trump presidency. Dan assures us that he has read four books about Donald Trump. We are going to stick to the facts about the man himself. But we also recognize that other agents—whether the shady underworld, the commercial banks, the criminal justice system, or failures of public policy—facilitated his rise: he is not just an individual.

His story shows us how the real estate industry has shaped New York into a billionaire’s city, in many ways trampling over the commoners, but not without observing some lessons about the importance of organizing and collectively fighting back against bullies and bulldozers.

This is a social justice tour after all.

“I have yet to have a Trump supporter on my tour.” The crowd of 16 New Yorkers cheers this opening line with approval, one proudly proclaiming “I’m a Never Trumper.” And we’re off.

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Thinking about minimum wages, and thinking about them like an economist

There is a movement afoot, and there is an election in the offing. Always a great dance to watch, no matter what the issue.

The latest show is taking place in Ontario, where “$15 & Fairness” is the rallying call for raising the minimum wage, and has found a willing partner in the province’s Premier who will go to the polls in the spring, but in the meantime has legislated significant increases in the minimum price for an hour of work. The same dance plays out in the United States, and in many cities and states a minimum wage of $15 per hour is becoming a reality.

The big question in Ontario is exactly that raised by The New York Times during the 2015 primaries when Bernie Sanders was battling Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination: “As the campaign for a $15 minimum wage has gained strength this year, even supporters of large minimum-wage increases have wondered how high the wage floor can rise before it reduces employment and hurts the economy.”

Something to think about, but how would you think about it if you were an economist? Here are four rules of the road that might come in handy regardless of which dance you might be watching next time.

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The Caledon Institute of Social Policy is Canadian social policy

To understand the development of Canadian social policy during the last 25 years, you must appreciate the role of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, which closed it doors on November 30th, 2017.

The Maytree Foundation hosted a conference celebrating the Institute’s accomplishments, and paying tribute to the vision and energy of its principles: Michael Mendelson, Sherri Torjman, and its founder Ken Battle (whose engagement in social policy advocacy began under the pseudonym Grattan Gray).

The Institute’s publications are archived on the Maytree Foundation site. Maytree also published a tribute volume:  25 years of informing the debate: A tribute to the Caledon Institute of Social Policy .

The volume includes a timeline of major milestones in the impact Caledon had on social policy, and over 30 tributes from colleagues, social policy analysts, and public servants, including three Canadian Prime Ministers. Collectively they make interesting, informative, and very touching reading.

Here is my contribution, included in the volume, which you can download in its entirety.

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