10 Ways Vibrant Communities Are Reducing Poverty

Submitted by Donna Jean Fors... on January 8, 2015 - 8:06am

As 2015 get underway I though it time to post this little reflection I wrote a few months ago on the top ten ways that I have seen members of the Vibrant Communities Canada - Cities Reducing Poverty network reducing poverty.  There are many others I could add to this list but I thought this captured the highlights - if you have things to add please do so in the comments section - I would love to hear it. 

  1. Municipal Governments are taking the lead in creating poverty reduction strategies

Examples: Surrey, Revelstoke, Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Red Deer, London, Kingston, Peel Region, Niagara Region, Waterloo Region, Windsor-Essex, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Saint John, Iqaluit

2. In areas where there is not a municipally lead poverty reduction strategy, community based multi-sector roundtables are leading the way and engaging residents of cities like never before in the work of poverty reduction.

Examples: Abbotsford, Victoria, Cranbrook, Nelson, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Chatham-Kent, Brant-Brantford, Hamilton, Halton Region, Peterborough, Guelph-Wellington, Huron County, Leeds and Grenville County, Oxford County, Fredericton, Charlotte County, St. Michel, RQRI Network in Quebec, Yellowknife and Whitehorse.

3.     Access to affordable transportation for low-income earners.

Examples: Calgary (Fair Fares program); Hamilton (Low-Income Transit Pass); Peel Region (Affordable Transit Pass Pilot); Guelph-Wellington (Low-Income Transit Pass); Charlotte County (Dial-A-Ride Program and Transit to Saint John); Niagara Region (Transit Pass Program + Regional Transportation Network); Saint John (New bus routes and improved timing along with affordable transit pass)

4.   Campaigns to encourage public and private employers to pay their employees at a rate that affords them and their families a modest quality of life and adequate participation in community life.

Examples: Fraser Valley, Revelstoke, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Guelph-Wellington, Windsor-Essex, Peterborough, Halton Region, Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Brant-Brantford, Saint John.

5.   Raising awareness and shifting attitudes towards people in poverty through the inclusion of people with lived experience of poverty in leadership and the development of speaker’s bureaus.

Examples: Waterloo Region (Awareness of Low-Income Voices); Hamilton (Speak Now Hamilton); Saint John (Around the Block Newspaper); Windsor (Voices Against Poverty); Calgary (Poverty Talks); and many more.

6.  Promoting and working with low-income families to access the Canada Learning Bond for their children’s post-secondary education.

Examples: Saint John (signing up over 100 families per year); Waterloo Region; Halton Region; Yellowknife; Peel Region; Calgary; Edmonton; Hamilton. 

7.  Innovative ways of addressing food security lessens the costs of food and decreases food bank usage. 

Examples: Windsor (Market Dollar Program); Hamilton (Market Dollar Program); Abbotsford (Harvest Box Bulk Buying Program); Vibrant Communities St. John’s (Travelling Chef Program)

8.   Active engagement in advancing the creation of and/or renewal of a provincial or territorial poverty reduction strategy.

Examples:  St. John’s, Saint John, Kingston, Peel Region, Halton Region, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Yellowknife, Nunavut

9.  Advancing social assistance reform and increasing tax transfers for low income individuals.

Examples:  Saint John, Charlotte County, Fredericton, RQRI, Kingston, Peel Region, Halton Region, Hamilton, Niagara Region, London, Windsor, Calgary, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Edmonton, Revelstoke, Victoria, Saskatoon

10.  Innovative Partnerships with local post-secondary campus’ leadership and resources to advance the poverty reduction and policy change in Canada. 

Examples:  Vibrant Communities Canada + Carleton University research to develop models for effective campus-community partnerships; Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction + McMaster University partnership to engage employers in the community around a living wage; Opportunities Waterloo Region + Wilfrid Laurier University partnership around the issue of stigma as a barrier to supporting people living in poverty; Vibrant Communities Saint John + University of New Brunswick partnership to provide mentors to low income students.