Media releases | April 11, 2012

Conservative Party Commits to Poverty Strategy

EDMONTON Premier Alison Redford announced today their plan to eliminate child poverty in the next 5 years and to reduce poverty in the general population in 10 years. The outline of the plan can be viewed here - Interest Alberta’s Human Services and Poverty Task Force has been advocating for the past six years for a comprehensive plan to eliminate poverty. It has done research into poverty, hosted events around the province and worked with many partner organizations to put a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy on the political agenda.“We are very pleased to see that the Conservative Party, under the leadership of Alison Redford, is willing to make this bold commitment to eliminate child poverty in five years and to reduce the total rate of poverty in 10 years,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “This is a very bold commitment that is long overdue.”“However, while we applaud the Premier for making this commitment, we are also very concerned about the lack of specifics in the plan. The notion that the funding for this strategy will only come from cuts to the Ministry of Human Services is ridiculous. A real comprehensive plan must involve many ministries and will require long-term investment in ten key areas and should not be funded by cuts to other social programs,” says Moore-Kilgannon.When the question of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy was proposed as part of the minimum wage review and in the legislature, Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Employment and Immigration at the time, said, “We have a strategy and that is called jobs”. The Alberta government has also set the lowest minimum wage in the country and introduced a policy that has restaurant and bar servers receiving lower than the minimum wage- a policy that impacts very heavily on mostly young women.“It is great to see the Conservative Party is willing to overturn their previous simplistic view of a complex problem. The latest report we published with the Edmonton Social Planning Council and the Alberta College of Social Workers, In This Together, (which has more recent statistics than those used in the Conservative Party release) clearly shows that most children living in poverty are poor not because their parents are not working, but because their families are not able to earn a living wage,” says Moore-Kilgannon. “Any comprehensive plan must change our horrible minimum wage policy and invest in public services, like quality childcare, that enable families to work, and/or go to school. “-30- Media contact: Bill Moore-Kilgannon (780) 420-0471