NWT Anti-Poverty Strategy Update

Submitted by Donna Jean Fors... on January 2, 2012 - 2:22pm
From: Aggie Brockman and Julie Green

At this holiday time of year, those of us who are more fortunate try to be especially generous with donations and other help for those who need it. It’s also a good time to talk to your MLA about what they can do to address the root causes of poverty – and help folks get out of poverty.

This update on efforts toward an Anti-Poverty Strategy for the NWT aids in helping us to keep up the pressure!

Talk to your MLA

MLAs need your support and ideas to continue the work toward a good, comprehensive anti-poverty strategy - 18 of the 19 MLAs promised in the fall election they would start to work immediately with business, community groups and others on an anti-poverty strategy. 

Talk to your MLA over the holidays to make sure they understand:

·         It’s important to have the whole government working strategically on poverty

·         A strategy should have targets and indicators for measuring success

·         Everyone should have the opportunity to be involved in developing and implementing measures to eliminate  poverty

Working strategically on poverty

The good news

·         When the MLAs got together this fall to decide on their goals and priorities, they identified “Healthy, educated people free from poverty” as one of their six goals.

The bad news –

·         They did not identify an anti-poverty strategy as a priority. Their priorities are housing, health care, economic development, diversification and decentralization and devolution, as well as early childhood development.  The bad news is that they did not seem to recognize the inter-related nature of these issues and the need for an integrated, comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of poverty and helps people move out of poverty.

See the Legislative Assembly goals and priorities at

http://www.assembly.gov.nt.ca/_live/pages/wpPages/2011NewsRelease.aspx#nov17

Targets and timelines for success

The good news –

·         There are good examples across Canada of provincial anti-poverty strategies with targets, timelines and indicators for success.

·         A lot of work was done in the NWT as part of the Social Agenda back in 2002 on social indicators that could measure changes in the roots of poverty.  Perhaps it’s time to look at these again so we can measure more than just income when we look at NWT poverty levels.

The bad news –

Some MLAs believe economic development will solve poverty in the NWT. We believe this is just one part of the picture. We also need community development. Experience has shown that even when we had boom times, 20% of NWT households had incomes of less than $17,000 and we have a big gap between the haves and have nots.

See the income gap table at http://www.assembly.gov.nt.ca/_live/documents/content/11-12-14TD14-17%281%29.pdf

Involving everyone to fight poverty

The good news –

·         MLAs followed up on their election promise by deciding to make poverty the theme of the day in the Legislative Assembly on December 14.

·         Ordinary MLAs unanimously called on the government to work with business, organizations and those living in poverty to complete an Anti-Poverty Strategy for the Northwest Territories.

·         The Premier confirmed his government will have a strategy developed by mid-2012.

·         The Dene Nation has joined the 29 other organizations and community governments <http://aged.alternativesnorth.ca/pdf/Supporters%202011%2012%2014.pdf>  calling for a comprehensive, integrated strategy.

The bad news –

·         The Premier told MLAs that Deputy Ministers would be developing the anti-poverty strategy without involving anyone outside of government. The Premier says he believes that business, people living in poverty, community groups and others have had enough involvement through a consultation carried out last winter – even though that consultation was held on an invitation-only basis.

·         So far the government has not released the results of its consultation or its poverty discussion paper to the public so we can see what thoughts and ideas are being considered and contribute further to the strategy.

We believe full participation by communities, business, labour, Aboriginal governments, organizations and people living in poverty is essential to develop and implement a successful anti-poverty strategy.  Talk to your MLA about how you, your community and local business and organizations can lend a hand.

See the Legislative Assembly statements, questions and answers about poverty and the strategy  at http://www.assembly.gov.nt.ca/_live/documents/content/hn111214.pdf

Alternatives North and the YWCA Yellowknife are meeting with Cabinet about the strategy in mid-January. Give us your thoughts and feedback!  And be sure to call your MLA.

Aggie Brockman                                               Julie Green

Alternatives North                                          YWCA Yellowknife

www.alternativesnorth.ca