The following is the transcript of an exchange on poverty reduction with MLA Dave Taylor (Calgary-Currie), Premeir Redford, and Minister Hancock.Poverty Reduction
Mr. Taylor: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On Monday the groups Vibrant Communities Calgary and Action to End Poverty in Alberta released The Costs of Poverty, an externally reviewed study that shows that keeping people in poverty costs Alberta between $7.1 billion and $9.5 billion a year. If poverty were a government ministry, only health would consume more of the provincial budget. Will the Premier commit today to do the right thing and the fiscally responsible thing and invest in a poverty reduction strategy?The Speaker: The hon. the Premier.Ms Redford: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The report on Monday was very interesting. I think it gathered a lot of information that many of us who’ve been active on these issues have known for many years. We know that it’s the right thing to do not only because it has an economic interest for us but also because we want to make sure we’re supporting vulnerable Albertans. That’s why we created the Ministry of Human Services, so that we had the ability under a very strong minister to bring services together to develop policy and to create a social policy framework.The Speaker: The hon. member.Mr. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Premier. Since the approach to poverty that she inherited, a system of benefits and services for the poor which it sounds as though she wants to continue, actually keeps people poor rather than giving them a hand up, will she follow the recommendation of the former Standing Committee on the Economy and ask people who’ve had the experience of living poor what they need to get themselves out of the poverty trap?Mr. Hancock: Mr. Speaker, we’re on precisely that trail with our social policy framework discussions. Over the past two months I’ve been meeting with people who deal with social agencies across the province as well as people engaged in business. We’re also going to be talking with people who are actually in poverty and people who are the recipients of social agencies as we move forward to develop a social policy framework which deals with both how you help people in need and how you prevent the situation where people get to need. The Speaker: The hon. member, please. We’ll get to the hon. Member for Edmonton-Centre in question 17.Mr. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again to the Premier. I keep hearing about this social policy framework, and I’m hoping that all you’re doing is hanging a different name on a poverty reduction strategy because maybe you think it’ll sell better that way. Given that Calgary reported its first homeless population decrease in 20 years this week, will the Premier acknowledge that the 10-year plan to end homelessness is working and, since housing is part, as is electricity deregulation, of the poverty picture, make the same commitment to poverty reduction that her government has admirably made to ending homelessness?The Speaker: The hon. minister.Mr. Hancock: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, the 10-year action plan to end homelessness is working across this province, and it is a model. It’s a model of how social agencies can work with government and community to create the opportunity for individual Albertans to be successful, and it’s working. Unfortunately, it’s probably the poverty reduction strategy that should be renamed because it is broader than just poverty reduction. It’s about how people balance that income gap and those other things which affect social cohesion and how govern- ment and community work together to help people stay out of poverty as well as to get the tools they need to support themselves and their families and to be contributing citizens.To view the full Hansard record of the Legislature of Alberta's proceedings from February 8, 2012 - click here and scroll to page 9.