CALGARY, Dec. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - In the 2010 municipal election in Calgary, Naheed Nenshi included a city-wide poverty reduction initiative as one of the primary planks of his campaign. In January 2012, he launched the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative (CPRI). Similar initiatives are in place or are being speculated in municipalities across Canada. But what can a municipality really do about poverty? Are anti-poverty programs really the role of city government? Or are these noble sounding but empty policies designed to prove that local politicians are doing something?
Today, the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education released a report calling for scrutiny of municipal programs for poverty reduction. Author Angela Macleod Irons prefaced by arguing, "Good policies should be judged by their results rather than their intentions. This is particularly important in the realm of municipal social policies, where well-intentioned policies can greatly harm the very people they are intended to help."
The paper argues that those municipalities are simply not well suited to fight poverty, because they simply do not have the ability to transfer income. As such, municipal poverty reduction efforts should necessarily be limited in scope, if they should be attempted at all. However, for those municipalities that attempt poverty reduction, the report argues that modest reforms do some good, without causing too much unintended economic harm. These can include:
- Collaborating with other levels of government and the not-for-profit sector by leveraging city assets like meeting space and community facilities
- Means testing as opposed to age testing for subsidies
- Legalizing secondary suites
The full report can be found at www.manningfoundation.org/our-work
SOURCE: Manning Foundation for Democratic Education
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