University of Calgary

Achieving the Promise

UToday HomeDecember 6, 2012

By Eldon Duchscher

On Nov. 20 — in conjunction with National Child Day — social services agencies held forums in Calgary at the University of Calgary, and in Edmonton to discuss solutions to end poverty. The forums, entitled “Achieving the Promise,” were also streamed online.

The promise refers to a commitment made by Premier Alison Redford during the provincial election to create a five‐year plan to end child poverty and a 10‐year plan to reduce poverty overall in Alberta if re-elected.

The forums included the release of a report entitled “Achieving the Promise: Ending Poverty in Alberta,” which has been published by the Edmonton Social Planning Council, the Alberta College of Social Workers and Public Interest Alberta. The report contains a number of recommendations on eliminating poverty in Alberta.

Some of the statistics outlined in the report are startling. In Alberta, 91,000 children under the age of 18 are living below the low-income measure — representing 11 per cent of all Alberta children. The statistics are even worse for children six and under, even though the majority of children living in poverty have at least one full-time, working parent.

However, the report also released some positive findings, including a 12 per cent increase in the number of children who have moved out of poverty.

Jackie Sieppert, dean of the Faculty of Social Work, believes an important step forward is bringing stakeholders together to discuss the issues in public forums like those held on Nov. 20.

“I hope the conversation started here creates momentum for educating people about the issue of poverty and concrete social policy changes to support poverty reduction,” says Sieppert. “Both are essential to the people of Alberta.”

“Poverty is a complex issue, so we need to have a comprehensive approach to preventing and reducing poverty,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta. “The report recommends many solutions, including a provincial tax credit to enhance the Canadian Child Tax Benefit, investments in public early childhood education, and care strategy and living wage policies.”

The forums were sponsored by the Alberta College of Social Workers, the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary, Public Interest Alberta, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and other civil society groups.

Read the report.