Fair Income Group (Cambridge, April 9, 2008)

Marvyn Novick and Peter Clutterbuck of the SPNO presented the policy framework for poverty reduction to a meeting of the Cambridge Fair Income Group organized by the Social Planning Council of Cambridge & North Dumfries on Wednesday, April 9.

Discussion covered the following areas:

  • A good jobs strategy should be a central part of poverty reduction starting with turning bad jobs into good jobs by making collective representation for service workers easier to achieve. There was particular concern expressed about the increasing use of temporary employment agencies that exploit workers, especially newcomers to Canada.
  • We should be clear about how the lead policy initiatives focus on poverty reduction and distinguish policy actions that address poverty reduction from those that focus on poverty prevention and poverty alleviation. All three are legitimate, but it is important to be clear such as the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador is in its overall plan on poverty — separating out its objectives and plans in each of the three areas. Poverty Reduction – An Action Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador (PDF)
  • There was some discussion about what could be done at the local level to also help reduce poverty. Ideas included developing prototype programs that address the issues of certain populations (e.g. transportation, access to nutritious food, engaging local institutions and the non-profit sector in addressing cash needs of low income people who are now using pay-lending agencies). Most importantly, local agencies working with low income populations have the knowledge and experience to articulate to government the policies and action needed to reduce poverty.
  • It is important to hold firm on the need for a staged increasing and indexation of of the minimum wage even in the face of the projected economic slow-down. There is no evidence to suggest increasing the minimum wage over a two-three year period will cost jobs, and in a flagging economy, a rising minimum wage will help sustain local economies with increased consumer spending on everyday living needs.

Peter Clutterbuck, SPNO Coordinator, will return to Cambridge to present the policy framework on common priorities for poverty reduction to a meeting of the Cambridge Poverty Roundtable at 3:00 pm on Friday, April 25.

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