Poverty Saskatoon

Local groups in Saskatoon are pushing the provincial government to create a poverty reduction plan. (CBC)

The cost of poverty in Saskatchewan is a growing concern for a number of groups in Saskatoon.

On Monday, an new initiative led by the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Upstream, and Unite Co-op rolled out in the city.

The campaign, called Poverty Costs, is an effort to push the provincial government to create a poverty reduction plan. 

Chuck Plante, policy director with Upstream, said they estimate the province loses $3.8 billion every year because of poverty.

"It's not just that you don't have work, it's a lot harder to get work," Plante said. "It's a lot harder to invest in your education. If you don't have the resources you need for child care or for transportation, you can't get to work."

Ryan Meili, a Saskatoon physician and director with Upstream, said B.C. and Saskatchewan are the only provinces without a poverty reduction plan.

"Whether it's focusing on child care, on housing, on food security, on wages, these are the potential elements," Meili said. "The thing that matters most is, start with a plan."

Meili said any plan would need to involve all government sectors, especially finance, health and social services.