Last Friday, the EndPovertyEdmonton Task Force released a 28-recommendation made-in-Edmonton strategy to eliminate poverty in our city within a generation. Almost 200 Edmontonians filled the gymnasium of the Intercultural Child and Family Centre in McCauley to hear about the 22-member task force’s work. I was touched and humbled by the turnout which, in turn, demonstrated interest and determination to eliminate poverty in our city.
I am confident that Edmonton is the kind of place where a community-driven effort like ending poverty will succeed. We saw this drive with the consensus to end homelessness, and we are seeing momentum build to eliminate poverty in Edmonton. Our plan draws on the knowledge and wisdom of the Aboriginal community, experts, agencies and those who have lived experience with poverty. Our very definition of poverty has a community-centric lens: poverty is about the lack or deprivation of the economic, social and cultural resources that enable full participation in community life. In other words, while poverty is economic, it has other features of deprivation as well.
To borrow a phrase from the keynote speaker at last week’s United Way campaign kick-off, our goal to end poverty is no less than changing the norm in Edmonton, based on the premise that people have potential and are worth investing in, and that everyone deserves to fully participate in community life.
Work like ending poverty is about changing the world, one city at a time. Indeed, cities have never been more integral to providing leadership in confronting our most pressing challenges of the day.
Representatives from a wide cross-section of the community serve on the task force, coming from government, service agencies, business, education, faith, and the indigenous and multicultural communities. It was inspiring to have two Edmonton MLAs, representing the Alberta government, join us at our launch. I look forward to collaborating with the provincial government, as it holds the most impactful policy and budgetary levers, on ending poverty in Alberta’s capital city.
EndPovertyEdmonton’s 28 recommendations can be grouped into six game-changing focus areas: eliminating racism, advocating for a liveable income, increasing affordable housing access, making public transit more accessible for those in poverty, enabling affordable and quality childcare, and increasing access to mental health services.
No matter your world view, there is a compelling case for ending poverty.
- Public polling conducted this past spring tells us an overwhelming majority of Edmontonians believe that ending poverty will benefit society and that public dollars should be deployed to end poverty.
- Every Edmontonian has the basic human right to live in dignity and take part in society, an inherent universal belief which is what motivates us to react to the wrongs of residential schooling or the plight of Syrian refugees.
- It makes good business and economic sense. A Calgary study suggests that managing poverty costs at least $7 billion (or up to $3,600 for each adult Albertan) annually in health care, policing, justice costs, combined with productivity loss. Lifting Edmontonians out of poverty will result in better labour force participation, higher workplace productivity and greater purchasing power. Over time, more families being able to participate in the conventional housing market means more market demand and less need for subsidized housing.
- Ending poverty is a powerful gesture of reconciliation to the Aboriginal population and is consistent with the spirit of Treaty Six and other agreements with First Nations and the Metis Nation.
As the EndPovertyEdmonton strategy is shared with stakeholders and the community in October for feedback, I encourage you to take part. At the same time, work is about to get underway to give flesh to the strategy through an implementation plan, including details like costs, timelines and ownership — to be rolled out next spring.
I invite you to help build our movement. In our strategy, you will find ideas for how individuals, community and workplaces can raise the level of discussion and awareness of poverty. Will you join us?