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.
President Obama appointed Rebecca Blank—a capable, no-nonsense, PhD in economics, and a former Dean at the University of Michigan—to his new administration, and told her to answer a simple question: how should the United States measure poverty?
Diane Finley, the Conservative government’s Minister responsible for social policy, is not exactly Canada’s Becky Blank. She might certainly be capable, and she might certainly be no-nonsense, but to be honest she doesn’t seem to have a lot in common with the American academic turned policy-maker: except, of course, that in Canada Ms. Finley is ultimately the person responsible for poverty measurement.
Both women have pulled off quiet revolutions by recognizing that the poverty line should evolve over time: as the things needed to participate normally in society change, so should the poverty line.