(January 24, 2018) Saskatoon, SK — Raising the standard of living among those who have the least is vital to a healthy and prosperous society, says Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili, whose newly released poverty policy commits to an aggressive poverty reduction strategy, universal child care and improved access to affordable housing.
One in four Saskatchewan children live in poverty.
Working at the Westside Community Clinic gave Meili a vivid picture of the heavy toll poverty takes on people. The effects ripple through all aspects of their lives.
“Seeing first-hand the devastating consequences of poverty is what drove me into politics. Practicing medicine, I saw every day how poverty led to stress, illness, and lost opportunity for my patients,” said Meili.
For years governments have given the bare minimum in support for health, housing and income, but you can’t externalize the cost of poverty.
“Poverty costs us nearly $4 billion per year in additional costs in health, justice and social services and decreased economic activity. And this says nothing of the human cost, measured in shortened lives, greater suffering, and frustrated potential. We can and must do better.”
Saskatchewan is the only province without a poverty reduction strategy. As premier, Meili would undertake a comprehensive, evidence-based plan to cut poverty in half within five years.
The strategy will require collaboration across government ministries, investments in income security, housing and homelessness, investing in young people through universal childcare and access to post-secondary education, employment programs, and health and food security.
The policy has earned praise among anti-poverty advocates.
“Acknowledging that poverty is a human rights violation, Ryan is committed to bringing in an Anti-Poverty Act that recognized the right to an adequate standard of living for all,” said Rev. Peter Gilmer.
Alison Robertson, who served on the Poverty Costs campaign and the Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction, said, “Ryan understands that poverty is too expensive to ignore. This comprehensive approach to poverty reduction would help all Saskatchewan people.”
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