At the City council meeting of July 22, Councillor Buck Buchanan put forward a Notice of Motion which was also supported by Councillor Frank Wong and other councillors.
The Notice of Motion speaks to the importance of supporting the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance.
“A lot of the people running this are doing so off the corners of their desks. This Notice of Motion was intended just to get the City involved as a partner, we just need to know what our role is,” said Buchanan.
The Notice of Motion also requested that administration present a report in due time for council’s consideration regarding the recruitment of multi-sectoral partners.
Red Deer is one of eight municipalities in Alberta working on a poverty reduction initiative. This is being done through collaboration with a number of agencies and community groups referred to as the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA).
The City is also one of 100 Cities in Canada focused on reducing poverty coordinated by the Vibrant Communities Canada – Cities Reducing Poverty initiative.
Poverty is defined as the condition of a human being who is deprived of the resources, means, choices and power to acquire and maintain self-sufficiency and the ability to be an active participant in society. A recent report estimated the annual cost of poverty for Albertans to be between $7.1 and $9.5 billion dollars. At present, 91,000 children in Alberta live in poverty.
“Poverty affects the first 2,000 days of a kid’s life, and if that’s where they start they go to school unprepared and are off to a bad start,” said Buchanan.
The Notice of Motion then talks further about how to reduce poverty through 10 areas of intervention. These areas include affordable housing, early childhood development, education, literacy, training and employment, income supplementation/replacement, disability income, creation of assets, social infrastructure and place-based interventions.
“Just like other issues this isn’t for the City to own the issue or control it, but just to become a player at the table,” said Buchanan.
Buchanan compared this Notice of Motion to the crime prevention initiative.
“We just need to know what’s going on in our City.”
He said one question is looking at what a “living wage” is versus minimum wage.
“The minimum wage certainly isn’t a living wage. We need to look at is it a single mom with two kids or two working incomes with two kids?”
Poverty is statistically worse for newcomers to an area, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and those with low educational attainment.
It was determined as a part of a number of studies that the minimum wage is not enough income for individuals and families to earn and keep up with the rising costs of living.
The issue will come before council again at a later date.