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Submitted by Bill Morris on
Hi Bob, I could agree more with you emphasis on community level solutions. The title of UWCC’s submission to the federal government’s consultation on a poverty reduction strategy is Building on the Strength of Communities. The thrust which is that the federal government’s strategy should support the many proven community-based efforts to tackle poverty, and help enable communities that have yet to come together and create such vehicles to replicate these informed by local circumstances and priorities. Because the federal government has jurisdiction over many key program areas and immense spending power, federal policies and programs have a huge impact on poverty and inequity, both positive and negative. It would, in my view, be folly to ignore the opportunity to ensure these are re-tooled or designed appropriately in order to do as much good as possible. For example, the federal infrastructure initiative involves the expenditure of half a trillion dollars of public investment over the next ten years. As we argue in a Policy Paper on Community Benefits Agreements prepared by Armine Yalnizyan, that spending should have an explicit poverty reduction lens. While not a cure all, this simple policy adjustment for money already budgeted could have a significant impact on opportunity and inequity in communities where infrastructure project will be rolled out. One obvious approach is to prioritize specific populations for a portion of the jobs and training associated with these projects. But achieving these types of community benefits won’t happen without making poverty reduction a policy objective of the infrastructure program, and taking some small but important policy steps to help empower communities to effectively engage in the process. Best regards, Bill

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