Saint John will be the first of six cities to take part in a national project aimed at reducing poverty across the country.
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos announced the Tackling Poverty Together Project in the port city on Friday.
The federal government will conduct case studies in the selected communities to get a better understanding of the problems and the findings will help inform the development of a new poverty reduction strategy, said Duclos.
'It takes us into a higher level of consideration of poverty reduction and what it means and what might work to make a difference in this community.' - Randy Hatfield, Saint John Human Development Council
"It will help us gather very much-needed information on the effectiveness, impact and benefit of some federal initiatives, such as the new Canada Child Benefit," he said.
The project will begin in "in the coming months" in Saint John — the only community in Atlantic Canada selected.
It will continue in Trois-Rivières, Toronto, Winnipeg, Yellowknife and Tisdale.
"We are going to do three things. First, is going to understand the current impact of policies on families here in Saint John," said Duclos. "Second, understand [the] impact of community efforts that we see everywhere here.
"Third is to feed into the building of our national poverty reduction strategy at the national level, because we want to know from Saint John what works when it comes to working together in order to make a better community," he said.
Tony Dickinson, president of One Change, a registered charity working to improve the quality of life in the north end of Saint John, said the project will show the value of community input.
"It will be a rallying cry for people to come together again to do work to provide a boost and it will provide us with national attention as well so we are able to have discussions with folks outside of the city and have their input as well," he said.
Randy Hatfield, executive director of the Saint John Human Development Council, said it's "a great project" that "puts Saint John on the map."
"I think it's well-known from the data and the statistics that have been around that we have an issue of income-poverty in Saint John," said Hatfield.
"We do have a basic needs deficit in this community and we have to continue to work on it, but this takes our game up. It takes us into a higher level of consideration of poverty reduction and what it means and what might work to make a difference in this community."
The federal government aims to decrease the poverty rate from 11.2 to 6.7 per cent, said Duclos.
With the recent introduction of the better-targeted Canada Child Benefit, about 300,000 fewer children across the country will be living in poverty in 2017, compared with 2014, he said. About half of the children in New Brunswick will be out of poverty.