Advisory group wants poverty reduced in Saskatchewan by 50 per cent in 5 years
Province says fiscal constraints will make goal hard to achieve
It's an ambitious goal that Alison Robertson believes the provincial government can achieve. She wants to reduce Saskatchewan's poverty rate in half by 2020.
Robertson is the co-chair of the Provincial Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction. She was one of 11 people from different backgrounds who came up with a list of recommendations presented to the government today in Saskatoon.
"We have set forward a number of recommendations that we feel are aggressive targets but achievable targets," said Robertson. "We're confident the government, working along with community partners and other jurisdictions, can achieve the goal of a 50 per cent reduction in five years."
Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer accepted the recommendations on the government's behalf. She appreciated the effort of the advisory group but cautioned against the province reaching that goal due to fiscal concerns.
"I function in my capacity in budget cycles and we're in the middle of one that has had some budgetary stresses, as we all know, with the forest fires and with oil prices."
Minister Harpauer noted the poverty rate is declining in Saskatchewan. Statistics Canada, as of 2012, listed 10.6 per cent of people in Saskatchewan living in poverty. The national average is 12.
She also said setting goals is important for progress to be made.
"I do want a goal. Whether it will be that goal, I won't promise that. But I think we do need to set goals. Even if you don't achieve them, you have greater efforts if you have them and work towards them."
The group's recommendations were organized into six categories: income security, housing and homelessness, early childhood development, education and training, employment and health, and food security.
The government will review the recommendations and work to incorporate them into a provincial poverty reduction strategy. No deadline has been set for the creation of the strategy.