Saskatchewan

Transportation, access to services linked to poverty in Tisdale, Sask.

Ives has been working on reducing poverty in Tisdale, Sask., since 2009 and says poverty exists in all communities across Saskatchewan, as well as in the northeast.

Brenda Ives has worked in poverty reduction in Tisdale since 2009

Tisdale, Sask., a town of 3,500 people, will be used as federal testing ground for anti-poverty initiatives. (Google Street View)

When thinking of poverty, small town Saskatchewan is likely not the first place that comes to mind. 

But for Brenda Ives, that's exactly where she's set her sights for the past seven years.

Ives has been working on reducing poverty in Tisdale, Sask., since 2009 and says poverty exists in all communities across Saskatchewan, as well as in the northeast. 

The town of about 3,500 people is getting national attention as well. In fact, Tisdale is also one of six places the federal government will go to in the coming months to test ideas that could end up in a promised national poverty reduction strategy.

Ives isolated a few issues that make the plight of small-town poverty different from what's experienced in the city.

Transportation options

Getting around in a small town poses unique problems for people in poverty, as there is little or no access to public transportation. 

The same is true in Tisdale, Ives said. 

"People need a reliable vehicle to get back and forth to work and school, to be included in the community," Ives said. 

"It's extremely challenging, especially if you're elderly or if you have a disability."

Affordable housing

Ives said there are particular troubles in small towns like Tisdale in finding affordable and suitable housing. 

"A lot of the housing stock in the northeast is older and in need of repair. Sometimes people cannot afford to have their own home and maybe they can't afford to repair their home that they do own," she said. 

She said this often leads people to live in substandard homes or contributes to the struggle to find affordable rental options. 

Access to health services

While Tisdale has good services when it comes to general doctors, Ives said people living in poverty struggle when they require specialized services only available in larger centres. 

"People who are working for minimum wage or just above that, it's a big challenge to have to stay overnight in Saskatoon or even to travel to Saskatoon for a medical appointment," she said. 

Ives  said she hopes the federal government finds some concrete ways to address poverty in communities like Tisdale. 

"Listen to the communities, listen to the people," she said. 

With files from CBC's Saskatoon Morning