Whereas poverty is not a natural phenomenon, but a consequence of political and structural forces over which governments have considerable influence;
Whereas poverty is an impediment to realizing the full economic, social, and personal health of Saskatchewan’s peoples;
Whereas living in poverty is particularly harmful to the health and development of children, and entails consequences which last well into adulthood;
Whereas experiences of poverty are disproportionately borne by Indigenous persons, and are a direct impediment to achieving reconciliation;
Whereas individuals experiencing poverty are best positioned to know what is needed for them to escape poverty;
Whereas the condition of poverty is contrary to the principles contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
Whereas Saskatchewan is obliged to demonstrate compliance with its international obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
Whereas Article 11 of this Covenant recognizes the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions;
Whereas Article 7 of the Covenant recognizes the right of everyone to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work, which ensure all workers earn fair wages and a decent living for themselves and their families;
Whereas proposals such as adequate income security benefits, a living wage, quality and affordable housing and childcare are not just social policy concerns, but basic human rights;
Whereas the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has been very critical of Canada and the provinces for not ensuring these rights in such a wealthy nation;
Whereas eliminating poverty would confer considerable health, economic and social benefits on Saskatchewan;
THE LEGISLATURE OF SASKATCHEWAN ENACTS AS FOLLOWS:
Object, Definition & Objective
1. The object of this Act is to commit the Province of Saskatchewan to eliminating poverty across the province. To this end, the Act establishes a standard, measurable definition of poverty against which efforts will be evaluated. The Act also sets a timetable for reporting progress, identifies initial actions to be taken in the next two years, and creates a mandate for a permanent advisory committee on poverty elimination.
2. This Act also commits the Province of Saskatchewan to ensure that articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are acted upon and monitored.
3. For the purposes of this Act, “poverty” is defined as the condition of a human being who is deprived of the resources, means, choices and power necessary to acquire and maintain economic self-sufficiency.
4. For the purposes of this Act, the Market Basket Measure (MBM) is the indicator of poverty in Saskatchewan.
5. For the purposes of this Act, Saskatchewan’s objective shall be to reduce the number of people in poverty by 50% by the end of 2024, using the 2016 MBM as a baseline.
6. For the purposes of the Act, Saskatchewan’s objective is to show continuous reductions in the depths of poverty until its poverty reduction goals are met.
7. For the purposes of this Act, the Minister of Health is the lead ministry responsible for reporting on actions taken towards meeting the goals of this Act. Annually, the Minister shall set goals for reducing poverty and shall provide a report on the progress achieved. These reports shall be publicly available.
8. Where measures in this Act or in the provincial strategy to eliminate poverty require coordination among Ministries or actions by various Ministries, these shall be brought to Cabinet by the Minister of Health. These shall be discussed and coordinated by Cabinet or a sub-committee of Cabinet. Where such measures require budgetary allocations, the Minister of Finance shall direct Ministries to give high priority to including them in the provincial budget.
1. For the purposes of this Act, a provincial strategy to eliminate poverty will be established.
2. For the purposes of this Act, specific responsibilities of each Ministry will be identified in the strategy.
3. The provincial strategy is intended to guide Saskatchewan towards its goal of reducing poverty by 50% by the end of 2024.
4. The provincial strategy will consist of actions to be taken by the provincial government, in consultation and cooperation with regional and local partners, with special effort made to consult people with lived experiences of poverty in the design of actions.
5. To achieve the goals set out in this Act, the provincial strategy will be developed according to the following principles:
- that prevention of poverty is preferable to the treatment of poverty;
- that prevention of poverty is contingent upon both a strong social safety and access to safe, stable employment that provides a living wage;
- that preventing poverty requires active participation from all elements of society, but especially those with lived experience of poverty.
6. The provincial strategy shall be introduced in the Legislature no later than six months following the adoption of this Act.
1. The actions contained in this section will be undertaken over the two years immediately following the Act’s implementation, and are in addition to other actions which will be defined in the strategy.The provincial government will implement an income security plan which ensures present benefits meet basic needs. As one element of this income security plan, the provincial government will design, implement, and evaluate a basic income pilot program:
- This pilot program will provide an income sufficient for a basic standard of living, irrespective of work status;
- Receiving an income under this pilot program will not be contingent upon participation in any treatment, employment, or educational program;
- Participants in this pilot program will be free to spend the income received according to their own priorities;
- Participants in this pilot program will contribute to an evaluation of the program intended to determine its effectiveness at lifting individuals out of poverty;
- Results of this evaluation will be presented in the Legislature no later than four months following the conclusion of the pilot program.
3. The provincial government will establish a permanent Advisory Committee on Poverty Elimination responsible for advising Cabinet on updates to the province’s poverty elimination strategy and the actions identified therein.
- Membership of this committee will include persons with lived experiences of poverty, representatives from Indigenous governments, anti-poverty organizations, academics, and business associations.
- Persons with lived experiences of poverty will receive the support they require to participate as full members of this committee.
- Reports from this committee to Cabinet shall be publicly available.
4. The provincial government will, in collaboration with stakeholders, develop, implement and evaluate a Saskatchewan Housing Strategy which includes expansion of social housing, rent controls, rental unit quality inspections and housing first programs.
5. The provincial government will design, implement, and evaluate a provincial child care program for the entire province:
- This program will aim to provide sufficient child care spaces in communities across Saskatchewan.
- This program will be designed in collaboration with community stakeholders who are already engaged in providing child care services, the parents who rely on child care services, and will be driven by their knowledge of community needs.
6. The provincial government will implement a $15 per hour minimum wage, with an incremental plan to move to an actual living wage.