Regina – In the summer of 2012, the Saskatchewan government published its anti-poverty strategy "From Dependence to Independence" claiming that no previous administration in the province had approached the challenge of poverty “with a comparable commitment to holistic, cross-government solutions.” A new report from the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives assesses the claims of the government’s strategy critically comparing Saskatchewan’s anti-poverty plan to that of other provincial programs to reduce poverty.
"Saskatchewan’s Anti-Poverty Plan, From Dependence to Independence: Does It Measure Up?" by Brian Banks and Paul Gingrich evaluates the extent to which Saskatchewan’s plan replicates the features of the more established and proven anti-poverty plans of other provinces.
The report identifies a number of vulnerable groups who have not kept pace with recent economic growth in the province and would most benefit from a truly comprehensive and integrated anti-poverty strategy:
- In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, 63,000 Saskatchewan individuals (6.4% of the population) had incomes below the Low Income Cut-off After Tax (LICO-AT).
- In Saskatchewan, 60 per cent of all 18-64 year olds with low income are unattached individuals, while 7 thousand of the 27 thousand living in female lone-parent families (25.6 per cent) are in poverty.
- From 2007 to 2011, there were 31,811 immigrants to Canada who became permanent residents of Saskatchewan. Assuming the provincial rate of low income is similar to that for Canada, approximately 5,500 of recent immigrants to the province experience low income.
- 25.8 per cent of Saskatchewan individuals with Aboriginal ancestry living off reserve (26 thousand) had incomes below LICO-AT in 2005.
- In 2005, 16.3 per cent of individuals in the twelve largest towns in Northern Saskatchewan had incomes below LICO-AT as compared with 9.9 per cent for the province as a whole. The low-income rate for Prince Albert was 17.4 per cent and for North Battleford was 14.3 per cent.
The CCPA-SK report has compared From Dependence to Independence to the structure of other official provincial and territorial anti-poverty plans and demonstrates several serious shortcomings. Saskatchewan is the only province that has not committed to the development of a comprehensive and integrated plan even though it claims to have done so in the introduction. Other concerns with the plan include:
- Saskatchewan’s plan does not sufficiently address the problems created by inequality of income over the long term and provides no discussion of the growing gap between the majority population and such groups as First Nations, single parent families and the growing immigrant population.
- The plan was constructed without sufficient and structured public consultation or a conscious attempt to seek perspectives from low-income persons and groups other than the disability community.
- The plan for the most part avoids a discussion of how social exclusion and stigmatization act as a barrier to reducing poverty. Very few initiatives and expenditures in the Saskatchewan plan are dedicated to improving services and the participation of low-income people.
- It does not provide a base year for comparison of benchmarks and thereare no success indicators attached to any of its pillars or interventions respecting vulnerable groups it identifies. Its measures are macro ones such as the Low Income Cut Off.
For more information or to speak with the authors of this report, contact Paul Gingrich at: (306) 352-0253 or contact the Saskatchewan Office at (306) 924-3372 or via email: [email protected]