Building Understanding: The First Report of the National Advisory Council on Poverty

In August 2018, the Government of Canada announced Opportunity for All – Canada's First Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Strategy included a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goal's target of reducing poverty by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. Opportunity for All included the adoption of the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as Canada's Official Poverty Line and the creation of the National Advisory Council on Poverty (Council) to report on progress made toward the poverty reduction targets.

This is the first report of the National Advisory Council on Poverty. It continues Canada's discussion on poverty by bringing forward the voices of individuals with lived expertise of poverty. It details progress toward our poverty targets and recommends improvements to our poverty reduction efforts.



Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy

Canada is a prosperous country, yet in 2015 roughly 1 in 8 Canadians lived in poverty. The vision of Opportunity for All – Canada's First Poverty Reduction Strategy is a Canada without poverty, because we all suffer when our fellow citizens are left behind. We are all in this together, from governments, to community organizations, to the private sector, to all Canadians who are working hard each and every day to provide for themselves and their families.

For the first time in Canada's history, the Strategy sets an official measure of povertyCanada's Official Poverty Line, based on the cost of a basket of goods and services that individuals and families require to meet their basic needs and achieve a modest standard of living in communities across the country.

Opportunity for All sets, for the first time, ambitious and concrete poverty reduction targets: a 20% reduction in poverty by 2020 and a 50% reduction in poverty by 2030, which, relative to 2015 levels, will lead to the lowest poverty rate in Canada's history.

Through Opportunity for All, we are putting in place a National Advisory Council on Poverty to advise the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on poverty reduction and to publicly report, in each year, on the progress that has been made toward poverty reduction.

The Government also proposes to introduce the first Poverty Reduction Act in Parliament in Canada’s history. This Act would entrench the targets, Canada's Official Poverty Line, and the Advisory Council into legislation.



Creating Change: Momentum’s Contribution to High-Cost Credit Reform in Alberta

As part of Momentum’s systems change planning process that was grounded in both participant and community experience, the issue of payday loans and other forms of high-cost credit (e.g., pawn, installment, rent-to-own, title and car loans) emerged as a priority issue for Momentum to address the financial barriers for people living on low incomes to exit poverty and build sustainable livelihoods.
To evaluate its work for high-cost credit reform in Calgary and Alberta in the period of 2012 to 2019, an outcome harvest was conducted. This evaluation reflects the collective efforts of multiple partners, identifies outcomes achieved as well as Momentum’s contribution to these outcomes.



Social Listening: Covid-19, Social Media, and The Path to a Better Safety Net

This brief outlines how beneficiaries are using online platforms to identify breakdowns in public services, celebrate the positive impact of public policy and urge reform. Ways in which government can capitalize on widespread social media feedback and begin to build long-term measures to center people’s experience as an important component of policy design are explored.



Together BC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

 British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, sets a path to reduce overall poverty in B.C. by 25% and child poverty by 50% by 2024.

With investments from across Government, TogetherBC reflects government’s commitment to reduce poverty and make life more affordable for British Columbians. It includes policy initiatives and investments designed to lift people up, break the cycle of poverty and build a better B.C. for everyone.

Built on the principles of Affordability, Opportunity, Reconciliation, and Social Inclusion, TogetherBC focuses on six priority action areas:

  • More affordable housing for more people
  • Supporting families, children and youth
  • Expanding access to education and training
  • More opportunities, more jobs
  • Improving income supports
  • Investing in social inclusion



Taking Stock and Looking Ahead: The Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color

Nearly a year since the outbreak began, and eight months since it was declared a global pandemic, COVID-19 has devastated hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of people’s economic prospects throughout the country. To date, the effects of this crisis have been wide-reaching and profound, impacting every individual and sector throughout the U.S.

For communities of color, however, the pandemic has been particularly damaging as these communities have not only been more likely to contract and succumb to the virus, but also more likely to bear the brunt of the many economic impacts that have come from it—including more likely to be unemployed and slower to regain jobs lost.

The Asset Building Policy Network and a panel of experts discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color, the fiscal policy measures congress has enacted to curtail those impacts and what can be done through policy and programs to foster an equitable recovery and more inclusive economy moving forward.



Supporting the financial resilience of citizens throughout the COVID-19 crisis

This policy brief outlines initial the measures that policy makers can make to increase citizen awareness about effective means of mitigation for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential consequences on their financial resilience and well-being.



Imagine Canada pre-budget consultation toolkit

The House of Commons Finance Committee recently released its call for pre-budget consultation briefs as the government considers its policy priorities for the 2021 federal budget.

This toolkit created by Imagine Canada provides information on the reasons to submit a pre-budget consultation brief as well as tips on how to do so.



How does the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) impact eligibility of provincial benefits?

This policy backgrounder provides an overview of how provincial and territorial governments have decided to treat receipt of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for those receiving social assistance and/or living in subsidized housing. It also looks at provisions for youth aging out of care during the COVID-19 pandemic.



Basic Income: Some Policy Options for Canada

As the need for basic income grows, the Basic Income Canada Network (BICN) is often asked how Canada could best design and pay for it. To answer that in a detailed way, BICN asked a team to model some options that are fair, effective and feasible in Canada. The three options in this report do just that. The three options demonstrate that it is indeed possible for Canada to have a basic income that is progressively structured and progressively funded. BICN wants governments, especially the federal government, to take this seriously—and to act.



A Scan of Municipal Financial Capability Efforts

As the connection between financial capability and social mobility is made evident, both public and private actors are increasingly interrogating the drivers of personal financial health and investing in the innovation of products and services designed to improve the condition of economically vulnerable individuals.

This high-level scan of existing U.S. financial capability initiatives and the ways they fit together lends insight into the role that cities and their core institutions can play in promoting residents’ personal economic growth. This study, funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and executed by Urbane Development (UD), leverages
primary and secondary research to explore features of the broad range of programs and policy efforts that make up the financial capability landscape of the U.S. This examination focuses particularly on programs deployed by and within municipalities.

 



System transformation in Ontario Works: Considerations for Ontario

This paper focuses on proposed system transformation in Ontario Works, and explores the possibilities and limitations associated with the proposed changes in 2018. First, it looks at the broader context within which the government’s social assistance reforms are taking place. Second, it provides an overview of what is known about some of the structural changes in social assistance to date, as well as an overview of experiences in other jurisdictions that have undertaken similar reforms. In conclusion, the paper outlines some key considerations and unresolved questions that the government will need to address before it can move forward with a plan for reform.



Accessing the Canada Learning Bond: Meeting Identification and Income Eligibility Requirements

Introduced in 1998, the Canadian Education Savings Program (CESP) was designed as an incentive to encourage education savings for the post-secondary education of a child. The program is centred on Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs), where savings accumulate tax-free until withdrawn, to pay for full- or part-time postsecondary studies such as a trade school, CEGEP, college, or university, or in an apprenticeship program.

The CLB was introduced in 2004 specifically for children from low income families. CLB provides, without family contribution being required, eligible families with an initial RESP payment which may be followed by annual payments up until the child is aged 15 years old.

The objective of this paper is to assess the extent to which not tax-filing and not having a SIN for a child could pose a challenge to accessing the CLB and the CESG. This study will address the knowledge gap by analyzing overall differences in SIN and tax-filing uptake by family income, levels of parental education, family type and Indigenous identity of the child. The findings will help understand access issues  related to the CLB but also to other programs with similar administrative conditions.

En francais: Accéder au Bon d’études canadien: l’atteinte des critères d’identification et d’éligibilité selon le revenu



2019 First Annual Report of the Disability Advisory Committee: Enabling access to disability tax measures

The mandate of the Committee is to provide advice to the minister of national revenue and the commissioner of the Agency on:

  • the administration and interpretation of the laws and programs related to disability tax measures;
  • ways in which the needs and expectations of the disability community can be better taken into consideration;
  • increasing the awareness and take-up of measures for persons with disabilities;
  • how to better inform persons with disabilities and various stakeholders about tax measures and important administrative changes; and
  • current administrative practices and how to enhance the quality of services for persons with disabilities

This report makes recommendations on support for persons with disabilities based on surveys and responses from individual Canadians, organizations, tax preparers, health providers, and policy experts. The recommendations seek to ensure clarity and fairness in Disability Tax Credit eligibility criteria and administration,  reduction of barriers in accessing the DTC, and more attention to the costs of disability-related assistance.

 



Tools and Ethics for Applied Behavioural Insights: The BASIC Toolkit

A better understanding of human behaviour can lead to better policies. If you are looking for a more data-driven and nuanced approach to policy making, then you should consider what actually drives the decisions and behaviours of citizens rather than relying on assumptions of how they should act. 

You can start applying behavioural insights (BI) to policy now. No matter where you are in the policy cycle, policies can be improved with BI through a process that looks at Behaviours, Analysis, Strategies, Interventions, Change (BASIC). This allows you to get to the root of the policy problem, gather evidence on what works, show your support for government innovation, and ultimately improve policy outcomes.

This toolkit guides policy officials through these BASIC stages to start using an inductive and experimental approach for more effective policy making.

 



Policy and research symposium: Income volatility

The research and policy symposium on income volatility was held on March 9, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario. Speakers from Canada and the United States present on key research findings on the nature of income and expense volatility in the early 21st Century. Speakers also suggest policy solutions to address the challenges of increasingly volatile household income. 



Household Financial Stability and Income Volatility, Ray Boshara, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Income volatility: What banking data can tell us, if we ask, Fiona Greig, JP Morgan Chase Institute
Up Close and Personal: Findings from the U.S. Financial Diaries, Rob Levy, CFSI

Canada’s household balance sheets, Andrew Heisz, Statistics Canada

A Realist Analysis of Nonprofit Tax Filing Services

In this presentation, Kevin Schachter, Graduate Student at University of Manitoba and Information Manager at SEED Winnipeg, presents a realist analysis of nonprofit tax filing services. 

This presentation is from the session 'Closing the tax-filing gap: Challenges and opportunities', at the tax research symposium hosted by Prosper Canada and Intuit, February 7, 2019, in Ottawa.

View all presentations from this event here.



Complaints Related to Service from the CRA: Lessons Learned and Working Towards Better Service

Operating at arm’s length from the Canada Revenue Agency, the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman (OTO) works to enhance the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) accountability in its service to, and treatment of, taxpayers through independent and impartial reviews of service-related complaints and systemic issues. OTO receives complaints and concerns from members of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

In this conference presentation, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman provides examples of the types of issues her Office receives in order to provide community leaders with her insights in helping Indigenous people get better service from the CRA. 

In support of the AFOA Canada 2018 National Conference theme of Human Capital – Balancing Indigenous Culture and Creativity with Modern Workplaces, this presentation will provide participants with information on the types of issues and trends her office sees from members of the Indigenous communities and on better ways of serving these populations.



High-Cost Alternative Financial Services: The Customer Experience

In early 2017 Momentum reached out to over 50 community members and participants to better understand local experiences with high-cost alternative financial services. In addition to connecting with individuals through interviews, Momentum hosted community consultations in partnership with Poverty Talks! and Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre. The following document summarizes what we learned from these conversations and the loan contracts that borrowers shared with us. It also identifies several themes that emerged from these discussions.



Summary Brief: High-Cost Alternative Financial Services

Many Albertans turn to high-cost alternative financial services when they need a short-term fix for a financial issue. Though these services are expensive and unsafe, they are often the only option for low-income individuals, particularly those who struggle to obtain credit at mainstream financial institutions. High-cost alternative financial services contribute to a two-tiered banking system, in which the poor often pay more for inferior services.

Without more stringent regulation, and in the absence of safe and affordable short-term credit options, Albertans living on lower-incomes will continue to experience financial exclusion and take on heavy debt loads – both of which are major contributors to long-term poverty.



High-Cost Alternative Financial Services: Policy Options

Many Canadians turn to high-cost alternative financial services when they need a short-term fix for a budgetary issue. Though these banking and credit alternatives are a convenient choice for individuals in search of fast cash, particularly those who face barriers to obtaining credit at a bank or credit union, access comes at a steep price and with a high degree of risk. On its own, one high-cost loan has the potential to trap a borrower in a cycle of debt, not only amplifying their short-term problem, but also limiting their ability to secure the income and assets needed to thrive in the long term.

The policy recommendations presented in this brief, and summarized in the chart on page two,  are inspired by the regulatory initiatives across the country, and reflect ways in which all three levels of government can contribute to better consumer protection for all Canadians.

 



Breaking down barriers: A critical analysis of the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan

The Disability Tax Credit helps Canadians by reducing the amount of income tax they are required to pay. The Registered Disability Savings Plan helps people with a disability or their caregiver save for the future by putting money into a fund that grows tax free until the beneficiary makes a withdrawal.

This report, released by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, makes 16 recommendations aimed at improving both programs. They are divided into short-term objective to make the process for the two programs simpler and clearer, and a long-term philosophical shift in the way Canada deals with people who are in financial distress but cannot advocate for themselves.  Recommendations include removing barriers that prevent people from taking advantage of the Disability Tax Credit and making enrolment in the Registered Disability Savings Plan automatic for eligible people under 60 years of age.



Redesigning Social Policy for the 21st Century

In this video presentation Sunil Johal from the Mowat Centre explains how social policy in the 21st century could be redesigned to accommodate the changing nature of work and income in Canada.  

This presentation was given at the Prosper Canada Policy Research Symposium on March 9, 2018.

Read the slide deck that accompanies this presentation.

Pour lire les diapositives de la présentation, cliquez ici.

View the full video playlist of all presentations from this symposium.



Policy Brief – Why is Uptake of the Disability Tax Credit Low in Canada?


Disability supports should be designed to provide benefit and not burdens to eligible recipients. Unfortunately, this is not a reality when it comes to one of the main benefits open to Canadians with disability: the federal Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Designed to recognize some of the higher costs faced by people with severe disabilities and their caregivers, the DTC appears to be more of a burden for many, with estimated utilisation unacceptably low at around 40 per cent of working-aged adults with qualifying disabilities.

Low uptake is a concern not only because people are missing out on the credit itself but also because eligibility to the DTC – which is not automatic – is a gateway to other important and more valuable benefits such as the Child Disability Benefit and Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP).




Zambia Financial Diaries – Interim Report

Participation of Low-Income Students in Ontario

Transforming the Financial Lives of a Generation of Young Americans

Families of Color in the Quest to Build Wealth – A Special Report from CFED

Canada’s Part-Time Conundrum

Portrait of Homelessness in First Nations Communities in Quebec

Perceptions of the Social Determinants of Health Across Canada: An Examination of the Literature

The Liquid Hand-to-Mouth: Evidence from Personal Finance Management Software

Comparing Poverty Measures – Ontario

Equitable Investments in the Next Generation: Designing Policies to Close the Racial Wealth Gap

A Road Map to Eradicate Child & Family Poverty: 2016 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada

The Canadian student financial aid system: the case for modernization

How are we doing on social policy? Is the recession paralyzing or transformative?

Out of the Shadows: Shining a light on Canada’s unequal distribution of federal tax expenditures

First Comprehensive Review of the Market Basket Measure of Low Income. Final Report

A Policymaker’s Guide to Basic Income

Precarious Positions: Policy Options to Mitigate Risks in Non-standard Employment

Divided City: Life in Canada’s Child Poverty Capital. 2016 Toronto Child and Family Poverty Report Card

2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card

The statistics and stories in this report tell a painful truth about British Columbia
We like to think of ourselves as a caring, civilized society, but in fact we have
been tolerating and sustaining shameful levels of child and family poverty for
decade



Thinking Regionally: How to Improve Service Delivery in Canada’s Cities

Financial Literacy Annual Report

Building blocks to help youth achieve financial capability: A new model and recommendations

Building blocks to help youth achieve financial capability: Report brief

Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts

Ending homelessness in Canada: A Study of 10-Year Plans in 4 Canadian Cities

Beginning with the end in mind: Planning pilot projects and other programmatic research for successful scaling up

Closing the gap in a generation. Health equity through action on the social determinants of health

Practical guidance for scaling up health service innovations

Against Financial Literacy Education

Evidence and Ideology in Assessing the Effectiveness of Financial Literacy Education

Financial Literacy around the World: An Overview of the Evidence with Practical Suggestions for the Way Forward

On the Map: The Atlas of Student Homelessness in New York City

Vulnerable Households and the Smart Grid in Ontario Emerging Challenges and Opportunities

An Advocacy Roadmap for Enacting Statewide Policies to Encourage Retirement Savings

Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities

Determinants of Asset Building

Encouraging Savings for Public Benefit Recipients, a Win for Families and States

Resource Guide: Lifting Asset Limits in Public Benefit Programs

Lifting Asset Limits Helps Families Save

Welfare Re-form: The Future of Social Policy in Canada

The Unequal City 2015: Income and Health Inequities in Toronto

The Unequal City 2015: Income and Health Inequities in Toronto – Technical Report

The Working Poor in the Toronto Region: Mapping working poverty in Canada

The destructive legacy of housing segregation

An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors

Beyond Housing First: Essential Elements of a System-Planning Approach to Ending Homelessness

The Rise and Fall of Social Assistance Use in Canada, 1969-2012

Why Financial Capability Matters – Synthesis Report on Canadians and Their Money: A National Symposium on Financial Capability

Financial Literacy: Strategies to Meet the Needs of Low Income Albertans

Towards a National Policy/Program on Financial Literacy

The Registered Disability Savings Plan Program: Why Isn’t It Helping More People?

The Impact of Food Insecurity on Health

Public Policy and Food Insecurity

The Role of Emergency Savings in Family Financial Security: What Resources do Families Have for Financial Emergencies?

The Role of Emergency Savings in Family Financial Security: How do Families Cope with Financial Shocks?

Exploring the Promise of Asset-Based Social Policies: Reviewing Evidence from Research and Practice

A Life-Course Approach to Social Policy Analysis: A Proposed Framework. Discussion Paper

Improving Financial Literacy: Analysis of Issues and Policies

Income Volatility and Food Assistance Programs

NYC’s Paid Sick Leave Law: First Year Milestones

The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty

Umbrellas Don’t Make it Rain: Why Studying and Working Hard isn’t Enough for Black Americans

Estimates of the asset-effect: the search for a causal effect of assets on adult health and employment outcomes

How to Design a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework For A Policy Research Project

Weathering Volatility: Big Data on the Financial Ups and Downs of U.S. Individuals

Let’s Do This. Let’s End Child Poverty For Good. 2015 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada

Letter From The Guest Editor: Collective Impact

Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan, 2014-2019

Strengthening Financial Literacy Through Collaboration: Highlights of the 2014 National Conference on Financial Literacy

National Strategy for Financial Literacy. Phase 1: Strengthening Seniors’ Financial Literacy

Addressing Income Volatility of Low Income Populations

Tools for Development: A handbook for those engaged in development activity

Monthly household income volatility in the U.S., 1991/92 vs. 2002/03

End Poverty in a Generation: A Road Map to Guide Our Journey

The burden of Poverty: A snapshot of poverty across Canada

Enough for all: Unleashing our communities’ resources to drive down poverty in Calgary

Financial Literacy: Lessons from International Experience

Small-Dollar Children’s Savings Accounts, Income, and College Outcomes

Poverty Reduction Strategy Summary, New Brunswick

Trends in Income-Related Health Inequalities in Canada

Appealing a decision about social assistance


Read this to learn what you can do if you disagree with a decision about assistance from Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). This can include a decision to: refuse to give you financial assistance; reduce the amount of assistance you get; cut off your assistance. You may be able to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal. But first you must ask the office that made the decision to review its decision.


How the CFPB is Proposing to Regulate the Small Dollar Lending Industry. Understanding and Supporting the Payday Lending Rules.

Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America

Empowering low income and economically vulnerable consumers

Income Volatility: Managing the Swings

Hidden in Plain Sight: A look at the $335 Billion Federal Asset-Building Budget

The Steep Climb to Economic Opportunity for Vulnerable Families

From Upside Down to Right-Side Up: Redeploying $540 Billion in Federal Spending to Help all Families Save, Invest, and Build Wealth

Building a Foundation for Effectiveness: Findings on Financial Literacy Evaluation in Canada 2012

Poverty or Prosperity: Indigenous Children in Canada

Practical Evaluation Strategies for Building a Body of Proven-Effective Social Programs – Suggestions for Research and Program Funders

The Ever-Growing Gap: Without Change, African-American and Latino Families Won’t Match White Wealth for Centuries

One Third of A Nation: Strategies for Helping Working Families

Asset-Based Social Policies – A “New Idea” Whose Time Has Come?

Social Policy That Works: An Agenda

In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness

Does Community Access to Alternative Financial Services Relate to Individuals’ Use of These Services? Beyond Individual Explanations

Redeeming the American Dream. Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs)Build Children’s Capacity For Economic Mobility