Policy Articles: Welfare & Social Issues: Poverty: 2002
This article by Alain Noël examines Québec’s new Anti-Poverty Law (bill 112), which he considers moves Québec’s “social policy agenda farther from that of its neighbours and closer to the preoccupations of European countries.” He demonstrates that it is a law “drafted from below”, in that the basic framework it proposes originated not from government offices but from community groups and social actors. Noël then frames the poverty question into statistical terms, arguing that Statistics Canada’s poverty rates, which traditionally showed Québec to be the most poverty-plagued province in Canada, are misleading; by taking into account cost of living indicators, he shows, Québec and Ontario’s poverty rates are found to be more or less equal. Québec’s situation is thus comparable to that of the rest of Canada.
In Building on Our Strengths: Inner-city Priorities for a Renewed Tri-Level Development Agreement, Jim Silver, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, proposes a new inner-city funding agreement for Winnipeg. Silver’s argument draws upon interviews with representatives from 100 community-based, inner-city organizations, and is based upon what he sees as real gains achieved through the past agreement in confronting inner- city poverty. According to Silver, these gains ought to be sustained through the establishment of a new tri-level funding agreement for Winnipeg.
Snakes and Ladders: A Policy Brief on Poverty Dynamics, by Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, uses the classic board game as a metaphor for Canadian poverty. Some people in society, according to Lee, are helped along by fortuitous events like the ‘ladders’ in the game, while others slip down the ‘snakes’ due to temporary misfortune. Poverty, Lee writes, is the most extreme situation, where individuals are trapped in the bottom row of the game. According to Lee, growing research suggests poverty is characterized by both short-term transitory spells and long-term chronic experiences. An effective poverty policy, he argues, must attempt to deal with both.