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  • Boom, Bust and Consolidation November 9, 2018
    The five largest bitumen-extractive corporations in Canada control 79.3 per cent of Canada’s productive capacity of bitumen. The Big Five—Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), Cenovus Energy, Imperial Oil and Husky Energy—collectively control 90 per cent of existing bitumen upgrading capacity and are positioned to dominate Canada’s future oil sands development. In a sense they […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • A new Director for CCPA's BC Office: Message from Mary Childs, Board Chair October 24, 2018
    The CCPA-BC Board of Directors is delighted to share the news that Shannon Daub will be the next BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Last spring, Seth Klein announced that, after 22 years, he would be stepping down as founding Director of the CCPA-BC at the end of 2018. The CCPA-BC’s board […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Who Owns Canada’s Fossil-Fuel Sector? October 15, 2018
    The major investors in Canada’s fossil-fuel sector have high stakes in maintaining business as usual rather than addressing the industry’s serious climate issues, says a new Corporate Mapping Project study.  And as alarms ring over our continued dependence on natural gas, coal and oil, these investors have both an interest in the continued growth of […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Pharmacare consensus principles released today September 24, 2018
    A diverse coalition representing health care providers, non-profit organizations, workers, seniors, patients and academics has come together to issue a statement of consensus principles for the establishment of National Pharmacare in Canada. Our coalition believes that National Pharmacare should be a seamless extension of the existing universal health care system in Canada, which covers medically […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Kate McInturff Fellowship in Gender Justice September 19, 2018
    The CCPA is pleased to announce the creation of the Kate McInturff Fellowship in Gender Justice.This Fellowship is created to honour the legacy of senior researcher Kate McInturff who passed away in July 2018. Kate was a feminist trailblazer in public policy and gender-based research and achieved national acclaim for researching, writing, and producing CCPA’s […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Missed Opportunity for PEI Poverty Strategy

The government of Prince Edward Island has introduced a Social Action Plan to Reduce Poverty, found online at PEI CSS.

This Action Plan follows community consultations, including face-to-face meetings and written submissions by community groups.

The government of PEI seems to take very seriously a Social Determinants of Health approach to poverty reduction, and so has exempted departments of health, education, and social services and seniors from broad government ‘belt-tightening’ designed to bring the provincial budget back to balance. In fact, these departments will see minimal new investments of $4 million over three years.

Given that Christine Saulnier and I estimated that poverty costs the PEI government just under $100 million per year in 2009 (The Cost of Poverty in PEI), any new investments in poverty elimination are welcome.

Also welcome is the recognition that spending needs to be focused on investments, such as affordable housing, weatherizing and repairs to existing housing, adult literacy, and early childhood education.

Most notably missing from Wednesday’s announcement is a set of clear goals, and a mechanism for evaluating progress towards those goals.

For example, the backgrounder on housing talks about the number of affordable housing units added since 2007, but does not indicate the level of current needs.

The PEI government’s 2011 report indicated that in 2006 there were 3, 640 tenant households in need of core housing (they spent more than 30% of their income on housing costs, their housing required significant repairs, or they were living in crowded quarters).

Since then, 340 affordable housing units have been added, meeting less than a tenth of the need. Even the increases in rent supplements and additional spending on affordable housing introduced in the Social Action plan will fall far short of the existing need for housing in PEI.

It is also unclear what the impact of HST will have on low income Islanders. In recognition of fixed incomes and the regressive nature of HST, home heating oil and children’s clothing are exempt, and low income Islanders will receive a rebate similar to the GST rebate. Still, it’s tough to know how much government spending on poverty reduction measures will be wiped out by the higher sales tax.

For a serious poverty reduction and elimination ‘Action Plan’, governments must honestly assess need, set clear goals, and transparently monitor progress towards those goals. If there is no method to evaluate progress and success, then there is also no method to enforce poverty reduction and elimination, and there is the risk that it becomes a purely cosmetic exercise.

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