The city has given the green light for a new initiative aimed at getting Calgarians out of poverty.   

The goals of the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative (CPRI) — developed jointly by the city and the United Way of Calgary over the past nine months — were approved by council on Monday.

United Way CEO Lucy Miller said the initiative is partly about being more efficient.

"So we're looking at as a community coming together and maximizing the resources that we have and using them in ways that have a greater impact."

The CPRI "Enough For All" final report sets out four broad ways to tackle poverty in Calgary from a structural, systemic perspective rather than applying Band-Aid solutions:

  1. Building community: setting up community hubs so that services are available in all areas of the city.
  2. Employment: "Most low-income Calgarians are already working. Calgarians don’t just need jobs, we need good jobs," said the report. The CPRI recommends creating employment opportunities through co-operatives, for example.
  3. Financial vulnerability: Because many Calgarians have high levels of debt and little savings, the CPRI recommends providing financial education, helping create savings opportunities and restricting the activities of payday lending businesses.
  4. Access to services: "Calgary has a vast network of agencies, but getting services one needs can be complex and frustrating," the report said. It recommends creating one-stop entry points for Calgarians in poverty to get the help they need in a client-centred setting.

"Instead of having to fill out a form in a million different places to access a service — imagine having to tell your story again and again — this is about only having to tell your story once and then you giving permission for people to access that story," said Miller.