Speech Article from  Employment and Social Development Canada

Launch of the Tackling Poverty Together Project

Saint John, New Brunswick                                                          September 2, 2016

Thank you for granting me the privilege and the pleasure of being with you today.

I would like to sincerely thank Wayne Long, your MP for Saint John–Rothesay, for his invitation to come to Saint John. He has been a tremendous asset to our team and a strong advocate for the reduction of poverty in Saint John.

Thank you also to the Nick Nicolle Centre for hosting us.

I also want to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Carolyn McNulty who recently passed away.

Carolyn was the founder of the Romero House Soup Kitchen and was an advocate for the fight against poverty for over 30 years.

Her legacy is one of caring and compassion and I hope that with today’s announcement, we can continue to develop the poverty vision and engagement in Saint John that Carolyn would have liked us to continue to champion.

As you probably know, a significant part of my mandate involves developing a poverty reduction strategy that aligns with the ongoing efforts of the provinces, territories and municipalities.

We all need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on this issue with empathy and respect.

That is why I am here today, to announce our new “Tackling Poverty Together Project”. Et en français, le projet “Combattons ensemble la pauvreté”.

This project will consist of six extensive case studies across Canada which will help us better understand the impact of poverty reduction programs in communities that have identified poverty as an important issue.

These communities are diverse but united by the same ambition to make a better world.

At the same time, we will learn directly from people who know first-hand what it’s like to live in poverty. 

It is important to realize that this important work will inform the development of our new Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy.

And I am happy to inform you that this large project will get underway here in Saint John in a few months. 

The reason we are launching this project here in Saint John is very simple: we want to learn from your example.

I am referring to the poverty reduction initiatives implemented here in your region; measures that bring us together and unify you.

Saint John will be the first community we call upon to take part in this large project.

To fully appreciate the diversity of our vast country, we will also work with five other communities across the country: Trois-Rivières; Toronto; Winnipeg; Yellowknife and Tisdale, Saskatchewan.

These communities were selected to ensure a broad cross-section of Canada. Together, they include English and French-speaking communities that are large and small, immigrant and non-immigrant populations, as well as Indigenous people. Moreover, Tisdale, a rural community, was also included to reflect the unique challenges faced by rural Canadians.

The Tackling Poverty Together Project will provide us with valuable information for the development of our Poverty Reduction Strategy.

It will also help us gather much-needed information on the effectiveness and benefits of many federal initiatives, such as the new Canada Child Benefit, which provides higher benefits to 9 out of 10 Canadian families.

We anticipate that this new benefit will lift nearly 300,000 children and half of all New Brunswick children out of poverty.

I would also like to mention the role of our Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

It's a community program that provides direct support and funding to 61 communities throughout Canada, including here in Saint John and in the province of New Brunswick, to help them identify and meet their homelessness needs at the local level.

Our 2016 budget also includes an additional investment of close to 112 million dollars in the Homelessness Strategy over the next two years. This represents an increase of approximately 50 percent for the Strategy, and the first real increase in federal funding to fight homelessness since its inception more than 15 years ago.

This new investment will allow 61 communities across Canada to receive increased funding and will provide access to Strategy funding for more communities.

The new funds will also allow a wide range of community stakeholders and organizations to develop and try out innovative approaches to homelessness prevention and reduction, especially among specific homeless populations, such as Indigenous Canadians, youth, women fleeing violence and Veterans.

I also want to mention that we are currently developing a National Housing Strategy that will rely on existing partnerships with the various levels of government, Indigenous groups, the private sector, non-profit organizations and housing experts.

There is a clear need for a solid national housing policy to improve the housing situation for all Canadians, including those living in Indigenous and northern communities.

I intend to work on developing this national strategy with the support of my colleagues in Cabinet, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.

Bear in mind that certain groups, such as persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, new immigrants and women fleeing violence are more likely than others to live in poverty.

Poverty and vulnerability also affect seniors who will make up a quarter of the Canadian population within the next 15 years.

Our Tackling Poverty Together Project, held across the country, is a golden opportunity for you to tell us what types of measures the federal government should implement to better combat poverty.

We need your experience, your ideas and your suggestions.

They will better equip us to set new priorities and develop measures and government programs to combat poverty.

Together, I know we can win this fight.

Thank you very much, and keep up your excellent work.


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