By Chuk Plante and Rachel Malena of Upstream, c/o the Poverty Costs Team
Researchers with the Saskatchewan-based campaign Poverty Costs have found that poverty is costing the province of Saskatchewan as much as $3.8 billion a year in heightened service costs and missed opportunities. These costs are significant – amounting to almost $4,000 per person per year.
All too often, initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty are framed as “all cost and no benefit,” but this simply isn’t the case. Poverty costs each and every one of us. By highlighting the costs of poverty, we can point to an additional justification for poverty alleviation: it’s a smart investment with a high rate of return.
Right now, Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces in Canada (the other being British Columbia) without a comprehensive strategy for eliminating poverty. The Poverty Costs campaign is a community-led initiative, convened by the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition, the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, Upstream, and Unite Digital Marketing Co-op, to raise awareness about how the burden of poverty affects everyone in our province, and to mobilize the community to call for concerted action to eliminate it.
Ample evidence has come together over that last few years showing us that paying for the effects of poverty costs more than proactively reducing it (more info to come next week on the Poverty Costs website). With this knowledge, we can embrace the opportunity to enhance existing poverty-reduction efforts and introduce new ones, along with targets, timelines, and accountability mechanisms for ensuring success. A comprehensive plan will not only reduce the human cost of poverty, it will ensure that that we are using our resources responsibly.
Poverty Costs has developed a number of activities and events for the week of March 10-15, 2014, all designed to help Saskatchewan citizens understand that poverty reduction is a worthwhile investment for all who call this province home. Even if you’re not a Saskatchewan resident, we hope you’ll join our efforts!
Visit the Poverty Costs website today- take the poverty quiz, sign up for updates, and engage with the stories of families who experience poverty in our communities. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages to see videos submitted by Canadians who support long-term poverty reduction, and join the conversation! Together we can make a plan that reduces the costs of poverty for all.