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Canada Launched an Anti-Poverty Plan, but Some Argue It’s Not Enough

Canada’s federal government launched its anti-poverty plan in Vancouver Tuesday, but some people — including those it’s intended to help — are doubtful that it will succeed.

The strategy, dubbed Opportunity for All — Canada's First Poverty Reduction Strategy, intends to see a 20% reduction in poverty rates from 2015 figures over the next two years and a 50% reduction by 2030.

Funding of about $22 billion was already announced for the anti-poverty plan, which will be used towards initiatives like the child benefit, workers benefit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

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But there is no new money attached to this week’s announcement.

“These folks can't wait until 2030,” Tessa Whitecloud, spokesperson for 1JustCity, a Winnipeg non-profit organization, told CBC. “There needs to be a clearer path where we can say, 'OK, these are the steps they're going to take until they're housed, till they're healthy, till they have enough to eat.' And that's not in this announcement.”

Still, Whitecloud is pleased that the government is looking to reduce poverty in Canada, as are other anti-poverty organizations.

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“For decades, we never would have expected a federal anti-poverty strategy — and certainly not one that referenced human rights. Though this strategy is not to the standard we were hoping for, this is a moment to be celebrated,” Deputy Director of Canada Without Poverty Harriett McLachlan said in a press release. “We hope this CPRS is a solid foundation for more substantial changes in the future.”

The strategy includes plans to work with Indigenous groups to better address barriers faced by Indigenous communities.

Al Urrutia, who lives in a tent city off Main Street in Winnipeg after he was forced to evacuate Pinaymootang First Nation during a flood in 2011, told CBC that those living there need proper housing — and added that they look for food in garbage cans.

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He also said the government should be doing more to respect treaty rights and help Indigenous communities to be more self-sustaining by sharing resources.

“Poverty is a sad thing. It's a sad story. We have to do this every day,” Urrutia told CBC.

Should this plan succeed, about 2.1 million people would be pulled out of poverty in Canada by 2030.