Recent Publications

Handbook on Citizen Engagement: Beyond Consultation

By: Amanda Sheedy, Canadian Policy Research Networks Inc.
This handbook builds on years of work at the Canadian Policy Research Networks bringing together cutting edge thinkers and practitioners in the field of citizen engagement. While it is not possible to capture all of CPRN's and others' work in one handbook, the hope is that this tool will provide a good overview of the breadth of the field – both the concepts and the methods – and supply ample resources (particularly online resources) with which to deepen knowledge on specific subjects.The handbook is intended to whet the appetite for citizen engagement for those new to citizen engagement, and for those with experience to deepen the analysis behind citizen engagement projects and provide a synthesis of the field and a concise reference tool. The long term vision is to contribute to the closing of the gap between governments and citizens, to allow public servants and politicians to reconnect with citizens’ needs, priorities and values.This handbook is not a prescriptive how-to manual on citizen engagement. There is no one-sizefits-all in citizen engagement. Each context, policy or program development process requires a unique approach and adapted tools to address its specific needs. Engaging citizens in a meaningful way first requires an understanding of the philosophy and vision of citizen engagement. It calls for planning and preparation and sometimes institutional capacity building. It can demand a shift in organizational or departmental cultural conceptions of what citizens can bring to a policy process. This handbook is a starting point to think about these issues and a reference guide for those who wish to deepen their understanding and practice of citizen engagement.Citizen engagement is premised on the belief that people should have and want to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. While some may claim that voting and consultation processes achieve this, it is clear that citizens are increasingly frustrated with these democratic mechanisms. They feel that their voices are not being heard and that decisions made by elites do not necessarily reflect their values. Citizen engagement provides a vision for a way forward – a way of reinvigorating current democratic practices and institutions, bringing meaning to people’s participation and fostering a two way dialogue between citizens and governments. The hope is that this will not be seen as a mechanism for placating peoples' desires, but actually bring about a more just society where governments' choices more closely reflect the needs of its population.Read the Handbook here

Provincial/Territorial Monitor

November 2015
Manitoba was the most prolific jurisdiction in terms of releases in November, including the publication of its 2014-15 annual report on ALL Aboard, the province’s poverty reduction and social inclusion strategy.

Federal Policy Monitor

November 2015
November brought many changes, including the publication of the Prime Minister's mandate letters.  His letter to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development pledged the development of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that will set targets to reduce poverty and publicly report progress.  The federal strategy will align with and support existing provincial and municipal poverty reduction strategies.

Welfare in Canada, 2014

By Anne Tweddle, Ken Battle, and Sherri Torjman
This report focuses on the incomes of four different households living on social assistance, commonly known as “welfare.” It is a continuation of the welfare incomes series published regularly by the former National Council of Welfare. Total welfare incomes consist of the sum of two main components: social assistance provincial/territorial and federal child benefits as well as relevant provincial/territorial and federal tax credits. Social assistance is the income program of last resort.  It is intended for persons who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program, so no two are exactly the same. Each program has different administrative rules, eligibility criteria, benefit levels and provisions regarding special assistance. However, the basic structure of social assistance is much the same across the country, even though the specifics may vary. The most common way of assessing the adequacy of any income program is to compare it to a recognized standard and then determine how far it diverts from that indicator. There is no single or commonly accepted baseline, but rather several measures that typically are used for comparative purposes. They fall into one of two groups: poverty measures and income measures. Poverty measures are considered to be the baseline level below which households are deemed to live in poverty. Two poverty measures are employed in this report: low income cut-offs (LICOs) and the Market Basket Measure (MBM). In 2014, welfare incomes for single employable households ranged from 38.2 percent of the after-tax poverty line in Manitoba to a ‘high’ of 64.7 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of the other jurisdictions cluster around the lower rate. Welfare incomes for single persons with disabilities, while low, were slightly higher, ranging from 49.6 percent of the poverty line in Alberta to 69.9 percent in Ontario. Alberta provides a separate program (AISH, or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) for persons with disabilities, which pays higher rates than the standard welfare program. In 2014, incomes of single persons on AISH came to 96.5 percent of the after-tax LICO, far higher than the 49.6 percent for persons with disabilities on standard welfare. The Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program also pays higher rates than the standard welfare program. For 2014, the income of single persons on SAID was 86.3 percent of the after-tax LICO, compared to 66.8 percent for those receiving Saskatchewan Assistance Plan benefits. For single-parent households with one child age 2, welfare incomes represented 63.1 percent of the poverty line in Manitoba and a surprising 102.4 percent of the after-tax LICO in Newfoundland and Labrador. For two-parent families with two children ages 10 and 15, welfare incomes as a percentage of the poverty line ranged from 57.5 percent in British Columbia to 85.6 percent in Prince Edward Island. The report also compares total welfare incomes in 2014 with the Market Basket Measure. As in the case of after-tax poverty lines, welfare incomes fall well below the designated baseline for all household types and in all jurisdictions, with the exception of persons on Alberta’s AISH program. Income measures comprise the second group of comparators. This set of measures assesses the adequacy of welfare relative to the level of income of other households in the population. There are several different indicators that can be used for comparative purposes. Two have been selected for this analysis: after-tax average incomes and median incomes. For 2014, these data are drawn from the new Canadian Income Survey (CIS). Because the CIS uses a different methodology than the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), income data for 2014 cannot be compared to data for earlier years. After-tax average incomes represent the amounts that households actually can use in their daily lives – their so-called ‘disposable income’ after they have paid federal and provincial/territorial income taxes. After-tax amounts represent a good basis for comparison to welfare, which is not subject to income taxation and is therefore effectively a de facto disposable income. Welfare incomes for the four illustrative households typically ranged between 20 and 40 percent of after-tax average incomes. Only two approach 50 percent and both are for single parents. In Newfoundland and Labrador, welfare incomes represent 49.5 percent of average incomes and in New Brunswick they stand at 47.4 percent of average incomes. The figures tell a powerful story about the adequacy of welfare incomes relative to the after-tax average incomes of Canadians. While the conclusions are basically the same when the welfare incomes are compared to after-tax median incomes – differences are typically only a few percentage points – the adequacy picture comes out only slightly better because of the different comparator base.

LETS DO THIS: Lets End Child Poverty for Good

2015 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada
 
Child poverty is not inevitable, but that it is a result of choices
-Campaign 2000 Find Campaign 2000's national report card on Child Poverty. They advocate that 1 in 5 Canadian children live in poverty, and that this is by design, rather than inevitability. The group profiles child poverty, programs that pull children and families out of povert and end intergenerational poverty, and makes recommendations on how to reduce poverty.  See Campaign 2000's website for more details. The 2015 report card, entitled Let’s Do This: Let’s End Child Poverty for Good outlines the once in ageneration opportunity before Canada to eradicate child and family poverty. With the federal government committed to collaboratively developing a national poverty reduction strategy, Canada must seize the opportunity to finally end the child poverty crisis for good.The report card offers practical policy recommendations to all political parties to redress the persistence of child poverty in Canada.  Campaign 2000 presents the latest statistics on child and family poverty and outlines how it impacts on multiple dimensions of children’s lives – including health, mental health, educational achievement and future employment opportunities.Several Campaign 2000 partners’ are also releasing their provincial report cards on child and family poverty on November 24th, with media events planned in Vancouver, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Charlottetown, PEI.  
Please click on the following links for all report cards:Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada, 2015 in English and FrenchCheck out our Infographic & share it & follow us on Twitter: @Campaign2000. Use the hash tags #LetsDoThis and  #EndChildPoverty and #cdnpoli when you tweet.British Columbia 2015 Child Poverty Report CardManitoba Report Card on Child and Family Poverty, 2015Nova Scotia 2015 Report Card: End it Now. 

On the Margins

A glimpse of poverty in Canada
Citizens for Public Justice releases an annual report or update on poverty in Canada. Poverty in Canada is persistenly leaving people on the margins. The report reviews national, provincial/territorial, and city rates. It also reviews federal party commitments, leading up the the federal election, and calls for a comprehensive national anti-poverty plan.    http://www.cpj.ca/sites/default/files/docs/files/OnTheMargins.pdf    

Provincial/Territorial Monitor

October 2015
Lots of activity this month.  Highlights: Newfoundland and Labrador - a focus on caregiving, Ontario announces its ten-year homelessness plan, Manitoba reports progress on its mental health strategy and Alberta's new NDP government tables its first Budget. Five provinces announce Minimum Wage increases: Newfoundland/Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Federal Policy Monitor

October 2015
A quiet month as we waited for the election outcome, but Statistics Canada reports included the results of a Canadian demographic study, the impact of mental illness on family members, outcomes of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators program and details of youth labour force participation.

Provincial/Territorial Monitor

August 2015
August was an active policy month, particularly in Ontario and Manitoba.  Ontario's historic Political Accord with First Nations and a report from the province's Community Hub Frameword Advisory Group are highlights, as are disability announcements from Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario.  The long-awaited Saskatchewan Poverty Reduction Strategy took a step closer to its unveiling, with the presentation of the recommendations of the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction.

Federal Policy Monitor

August 2015
August was quieter, policy-wise, as the election approaches.  Interesting postings from Statistics Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.