Federal government launches first Poverty Reduction Strategy; Conservatives call it ‘election campaign announcement’

Strategy will reduce poverty by 50 percent by 2030


Jean-Yves Duclos

JEAN-YVES Duclos, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, on Tuesday launched Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy, which targets a 20 percent reduction in poverty by 2020 and a 50 percent reduction in poverty by 2030.

The government claims that the strategy builds on its significant investments since 2015. These include the Canada Child Benefit, the Canada Workers Benefit, the National Housing Strategy and the increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Restoring the eligibility age for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits from 67 to 65 helped an additional 100,000 Canadians from falling into poverty.

Since 2015, $22 billion has been invested, and about 650,000 Canadians will have been lifted out of poverty by 2019.

Opportunity for All is a plan for a concerted, coordinated fight against poverty on multiple fronts. It is the federal government’s vision for Canada as a world leader in the eradication of poverty and represents a whole‑of‑society approach to tackling poverty, which means everyone has a role to play, according to a press release by Employment and Social Development Canada.

This initiative is a direct result of extensive engagement with Canadians across the country and introduces:

* Canada’s official measure of poverty;
* concrete poverty reduction targets; and
* a National Advisory Council on Poverty.
Legislation is proposed for introduction as early as possible in Parliament that would entrench Canada’s Official Poverty Line, the poverty reduction targets and the National Advisory Council on Poverty in law. Furthermore, the Government’s progress toward meeting the targets every year will be published in an annual report and tabled in Parliament every year.

Duclos said: “From our first day in office, our government has taken action to reduce poverty and help more Canadians join the middle class. Programs like the Canada Child Benefit, the National Housing Strategy and the increase to Old Age Security are having a real and meaningful impact on those working hard to make ends meet. Today’s announcement of Canada’s first-ever Poverty Reduction Strategy, with its commitments to reduce poverty by 50 percent, shows that our government is committed to helping grow the middle class even further.”

Quick facts 
* In 2015, there were 4.2 million Canadians living in poverty, representing 1 in 8 Canadians or 12.1 percent. By 2016, this number dropped to 3.7 million Canadians, a decrease of half a million people.

  • The “What we heard about poverty so far” report, a summary of the feedback gathered during the engagement process that took place with Canadians, including people with lived experience of poverty, community- and national-level organizations, Indigenous partners as well as provinces and territories, was released on February 20, 2018.


THE Conservatives in a statement said it was a shame that the strategy was “nothing more than an election campaign announcement that focused mainly on coordinating funding already allocated and the creation of a National Advisory Council on Poverty.

“Canadians need concrete action on poverty reduction, not another government body that the Liberals can use to politicize for their own purposes,” said Conservative critic for Families, Children and Social Development, Karen Vecchio.

She noted: “Conservatives support setting realistic targets in order to reduce poverty. We understand that in order to set these targets, we must find a tangible way to measure how Canadians are doing.  The Market-Basket is a good measure, but it’s important that whatever official poverty line the Liberals decide to use considers how much the government already taxes away Canadians’ hard-earned dollars.”

Vecchio added: “The Liberals claim that their plan will lift all Canadians out of poverty, but they failed to mention measures to help Canadians with disabilities. Currently, many Canadians with disabilities lose $1.15 for every new dollar they earn. The Conservative Private Members’ Bill, The Opportunity Act would have guaranteed that people with disabilities are not penalized when they find a job. Unfortunately, the Liberals voted against this common-sense measure.

“Conservatives know that the best way to reduce poverty in Canada is to reduce taxes and regulation and build a competitive economy that creates lots of high-paying jobs for Canadians. Unfortunately, the Liberals have failed to do that and instead have made life less affordable for Canadians.”