Home Food Banks Canada’s Response to Opportunity for All: Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy

Federal Government’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy Is Welcomed by Food Banks Canada but There Is More to Be Done.

Food Banks Canada’s Response to Opportunity for All: Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy

August 21, 2018

Since 2015, the federal government has taken significant steps towards reducing poverty in Canada and has made some concrete, long-term commitments to support those living with low incomes. Yet, there is still much work to be done.
Food Banks Canada advocated for, and was pleased to see, the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit to help low-income families, the creation of the National Housing Strategy to increase the stock of affordable housing, better pensions for vulnerable single seniors and increased supports for low-income workers through the Canada Workers Benefit. 
These commitments marked an important step towards making a difference in the lives of people living in poverty, including those who are food insecure, needing food banks to make ends meet. 
It was with great anticipation that Food Banks Canada awaited Canada’s first poverty reduction strategy and we are encouraged to see that the government will introduce Canada’s Official Poverty Line that will be similar to the Market Basket Measure (MBM), recognizing the varied cost of goods and services across the country.  We also welcome the government’s intent to close the poverty measurement gaps in Canada’s north to better reflect the significant levels of poverty and food insecurity that exist in our northern regions.
Food Banks Canada is cautiously optimistic to see that the strategy will be supported by legislation. This will enshrine into law the targets and measurements set forth in the strategy; to officially recognize the new poverty measure; and legislate the creation of a new advisory council that includes people with lived experience of poverty, which will be tasked with reporting back on poverty reduction targets. 
We are hopeful that this combination of legislation and new measurements/targets will lay the foundation for the strategy to be resilient under future governments, regardless of the government of the day. 
While this strategy provides a foundation to build upon, Food Banks Canada is extremely concerned that there are no significant new funding announcements. More than 850,000 Canadians need help from a food bank every month in Canada, and many more investments are needed if we are to truly reduce poverty in the short and long term.
Food Banks Canada and the food bank network sees this strategy as an important foundational piece towards progress. We will continue to work closely with the government over the coming years to develop and advocate for long-term policy solutions and financial investments that will bolster and strengthen this strategy for years to come. The sobering reality is that far too many Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet, and much more still needs to be done.