Update - Comprehensive policies to combat poverty across Canada, by province
A scan of comprehensive anti-poverty laws and strategies, province by province.
Updated in March, 2015.  Description. To consult the tables on Legislation and Strategies..
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This document provides an update of the tool developed in 2009 by the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP) which provided an overview of anti-poverty policies implemented by five Canadian provinces, namely the Government of Ontario's poverty reduction legislation, Manitoba and Nova Scotia's comprehensive strategies, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador's and Québec's efforts to combat poverty through broad‐based policies. Shortly after August 2009, the Government of New Brunswick announced its Economic and Social Inclusion Plan, supported by the Economic and Social Inclusion Act. As of March 2015, all Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of Alberta and British Columbia, have announced poverty reduction plans.                     

In light of these developments, and in continuity with other work developed on anti‐poverty strategies across Canada,1 the NCCHPP has conducted a scan of comprehensive laws and strategies. This refers to legislation, plans or strategies “that are multi‐faceted, crossing program areas and jurisdictions.”2,3 This scan seeks to provide a descriptive overview of existing comprehensive anti‐poverty plans, strategies and policies, and to guide the reader towards these policy documents and analyses of them. It also aims to provoke discussion concerning current and future policy responses to poverty.

This document does not replace an in‐depth analysis of anti‐poverty measures in Canada. Indeed, it does not examine the individual policies that contribute to the social safety net provided (or not) by each province. Rather, it focuses on comprehensive policies, as these usually involve the use of intersectoral approaches, one area of study at the NCCHPP.  Furthermore, most of the anti‐poverty strategies described in the scan are recent and not yet well known by the public health community. Since two provinces are still in the midst of formulating their own strategies while others are in the process of updating their current ones, and the federal government has yet to establish its own broad‐based policy, this tool aims to increase familiarity with existing strategies and the mechanisms applied to fight poverty in Canada.  
 
The first table highlights anti‐poverty legislation that has been adopted in four Canadian provinces and one territory: Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Nunavut. These laws are of interest as they promote long‐term government action and commitment.


Anti-poverty legislation in Canadian provinces   Image of the Anti-poverty legislation table - click here to consult

The second table highlights comprehensive poverty reduction strategies and action plans  that have been launched by the provinces of Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island, as well as the Nunavut and Yukon territories, including updated strategies launched by Québec, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario. The strategies' objectives, targets and mechanisms, as well as key areas they target: housing; early childhood development initiatives and family policies; training and employment programs; income supplementation and replacement; and place‐based initiatives, are highlighted among others.  This information contributes to a summary understanding of the concrete measures that provinces take to reduce poverty, within comprehensive policies.   An overview by province can be viewed by clicking on the title of each of the strategies or legislative acts.

Strategies, action plans and approches for reducing poverty in the provinces and territories of Canada

Image of the anti-poverty strategies table - click here to consult


This NCCHPP tool is open for your comments:
•Are there modifications that need to be made to a particular entry?
•Are there missing strategies?
•Should other dimensions be added to the descriptive framework?8
•Is this tool useful?  

Please let us know, contact Val Morrison at val.morrison@inspq.qc.ca.

Authors: Val Morrison, Gracia Mabaya, Anika Mendell

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1 See Mercier & Mendell (2009).
2 Katherine Scott (personal communication, June 4, 2009).                   
3 In order to identify the provinces that have adopted comprehensive legislation and/or strategies, we conducted a survey of government websites, using keywords “(anti‐)poverty strategy/legislation”, “poverty reduction”, and “provincial poverty strategy/legislation”. We also used the following search engines: Eureka, Ingenta, Santécom, EBSCOhost, CSA, Canadian Social Research Links and Google. The Canadian Council on Social Development and the Caledon Institute reports (see bibliography) were particularly helpful in identifying comprehensive strategies.
4 Intersectoral approaches “strive to integrate the actions of other sectors around the same problem” (Gagnon & Kouri 2008, p. 3); in this case, the problem of poverty.
5 National Council of Welfare (2007), p. 7.
6 A synthesis of the Government of Saskatchewan's poverty reduction approach has also been included.
7 Torjman (2008) suggests that these are key elements, among others, of robust poverty strategies.
8 The descriptive framework is not based on a particular conceptual model. Rather, it includes categories that come from some or all of the laws and strategy documents (i.e., “guiding values”, “objective”, “target”, “monitoring mechanisms”, “measures used”), and that contribute to a summary understanding of each comprehensive law or strategy. The category “definition of poverty,” also explicit in most policy documents, is included because it is an indication of how each government frames the problem of poverty. The presence of a “Government‐led consultation process” indicates to what extent the government has sought input from the population and from those living in poverty, making the policy‐making process participative and inclusive. “Creation of interministerial/intersectoral committee” and “Implementation mechanisms” demonstrate to what extent the law/strategy mobilizes decision makers from other government sectors, as well as actors from outside of government, and indicates how the law/strategy has or will be applied. The category “Mechanisms to ensure government coherence” gives an idea of the extent to which laws/strategies may involve the participation and cooperation of other sectors of government, and the application of a “whole‐of‐government approach” (Kouri & Gagnon 2007). The category “Areas of intervention” has been explained above (see page 2). We welcome your comments about this descriptive framework.
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The production of the NCCHPP website has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.