To our members: By the end of February, and will be integrated into the Tamarack website at This is a more accessible platform, where you will easily find more engaging content and resources on poverty reduction and community change.

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Recent Publications

Ontario's Social Assistance Poverty Gap

By Kaylie Tiessen
Kaylie Tiessen and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives have published a report on Ontario's Social Assistance Poverty Gap Introduction Just over seven years after the Government of Ontario launched a major poverty reduction strategy, it has broadened the scope to include not just families with children but, also, adults and people experiencing homelessness. This paper drills down on one key but complex policy file that is essential to the province meeting its commitments to reduce poverty and to improve income security for both children and adults: social assistance. It measures the poverty gap for singles and families who qualify for either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program. It concludes that the poverty gap—the distance between total benefit income and the poverty line—for people who qualify for social assistance has worsened over time, especially so for single people receiving Ontario. Read the report

Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory - Brochure

From the Government of Alberta, Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory Office
Find the brochure released by the Governemnt of Alberta's Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory Office, as a resource employees and employers to understand the rights of and responsibilities Temporary Foreign Workers, and where to look for support or advice.The roles and responsibilities of the TFWA Office, include:Help clients understand their rights and responsibilities. Help resolve unfair, unsafe or unhealthy working onditions by working with federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as not-for-profit and community based organizations. Respond to complaints, inquiries and requests for information. Work with not-for-profit organizations to help TFWs adapt to living and/or working in Alberta. Provide assistance in accessing, completing and submitting TFW-related formsAccess the brochure here

The Direct Burden of Socio-Economic Health Inequalities in Canada

An Analysis of Health Care Costs by Income Level
People who enjoy higher social and economic positions relative to others based on their income, education or occupation tend to be healthier. As such, they generally need and use fewer health care services, resulting in lower health care costs. This report examines health care cost differences between socio-economic status groups in order to estimate what these differences cost the Canadian health care system. This estimate is called the direct economic burden of socio-economic inequalities in health. This report offers the first national-level estimate of the contribution of health inequalities to health care costs. Highlighting the costs of poor health informs Canadians about potential economic gains from improving health and reducing health inequalities by addressing the social, economic and environmental conditions that strongly influence health. Key Findings Health care costs generally decline as income rises for both men and women. Health care costs could be potentially reduced by $6.2 billion if all Canadians had the same health care utilization and cost patterns as those in the highest income group. Over 14% of total annual expenditures are currently spent on on acute care in-patient hospitalizations, prescription medications and physician consultations. The lowest income group accounts for 60% ($3.7 billion) of the health care costs of socio-economic health inequalities. Read the full report here: The Direct Burden of Socio-Economic Health Inequalities in Canada Discover the technical report here: Health Costs by Income Level 

Better is Always Possible: A Federal Plan to Tackle Poverty and Inequality

Alternative Federal Budget | February 2016
This technical paper originally appeared on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website by Seth Klein and Armine Yalnizyan. The federal government has recently mandated Minister Yves-Duclos to work on a federal poverty reduction strategy. What it looks like has yet to be seen.In February 2016 the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released their Alternative Federal Budget, including recommendations based on research throughout the year. What needs to happen?Reduce the overall poverty rateEqualize outcomes for vulnerable populations and disadvantaged peopleReduce income insecurityIncrease emergency housing in the short-term and housing stock in the long-termHalve food insecurityHow can we turn these recommendations into reality?Identify measurable targets and timelinesTake a human rights approach and include the voices who have lived experience of povertyForm a strong relationship with the provinces and territories that transfers funds to those showing achivements of their poverty reduction goalsSet national standards for welfare ratesEstablish a Canada Child Cenefit for low income familiesIncrease the GIS to keep seniors out of povertyLegislate decent wages Tackle homelessness and the housing stockImplement universal child careInvest in green social enterpriseRead the full report here

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.