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  • Could skyrocketing private sector debt spell economic crisis? June 21, 2017
    Our latest report finds that Canada is racking up private sector debt faster than any other advanced economy in the world, putting the country at risk of serious economic consequences. The report, Addicted to Debt, reveals that Canada has added $1 trillion in private sector debt over the past five years, with the corporate sector […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Betting on Bitumen: Alberta's energy policies from Lougheed to Klein June 8, 2017
    The role of government in Alberta, both involvement and funding, has been critical in ensuring that more than narrow corporate interests were served in the development of the province’s bitumen resources.  A new report contrasts the approaches taken by two former premiers during the industry’s early development and rapid expansion periods.  The Lougheed government invested […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canada-China FTA will leave workers worse off June 2, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is currently consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement. In CCPA’s submission to this process, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair argues that an FTA based on Canada’s standard template would almost certainly reinforce rather than improve upon Canada’s imbalanced and deleterious trade with China. It can also be expected to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Faulty assumptions about pipelines and tidewater access May 30, 2017
    The federal and Alberta governments and the oil industry argue that pipelines to tidewater will unlock new markets where Canadian oil can command a better price than in the US, where the majority of Canadian oil is currently exported. Both governments have approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, but a new report finds that […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Weathering the storm: is this the end of CRA’s political activities audits? May 5, 2017
    Yesterday, following a panel’s recommendation to allow charities more freedom to speak out, the federal government decided to suspend the Canada Revenue Agency’s controversial political activities audit program. Indeed this is good news for Canadian charities. Everyone at the CCPA is proud of the role our organization has played in challenging these audits and in […]
    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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