Poverty Reduction Through Economic Development

I’ve summarized, in point form, a document that was produced by the World Bank. The document is entitled, Attacking Poverty: Opportunity, Empowerment, and Security, which is reproduced below in the box. I’ve specifically focused on the section about moving from strategy to action by maximizing opportunities.

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My Personal Statement for the Masters of Social Work Application

I find myself constantly reminded of the social inequalities that occur in our local and global community and, as such, I have committed myself to working towards equity in access and opportunity.

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ALIV(e), Low-Income Voices

I am currently working with a group called, ALIV(e), which stands for Awareness of Low-Income Voices. I am facilitating the process of increasing their online presence through a website, a blog and a twitter feed so that they can continue their amazing work using new forms of communication.

After having a 4 hour meeting with the group today, I am inspired by the stories they brought to the table. There are many stories of poverty in the Waterloo Region that most residents are not familiar with. It is this groups’ mandate to raise awareness of those stories so that change can happen. Not only are they talking about the social problems around poverty, but they have ideas for solutions to those problems.

The need now is for the right people to hear those ideas and solutions and make the changes.

More about the ALIV(e) group:

ALIV(e) is a collaborative group of individuals with LIVED low income experience, looking to bring the voice of the low income community into the arena of poverty prevention and reduction.

ALIV(e) supports networking between government, non-profit groups and low income communities.

Awareness of Low Income Voices – ALIV(e) – was founded in 2007 by Opportunities Waterloo Region as a way to learn more about the issues, experiences and concerns of people living on low incomes. With financial, administrative and facilitation support from Opportunities, ALIV(e) is educating its members and the wider community about poverty-related concerns and initiatives aimed at preventing and reducing poverty.

The group is constantly looking for new members that can add to the voice of ALIV(e). Please contact Brenda Regehr at Opportunities Waterloo Region at 519-883-2353 ext.#5985 for further information or to attend a meeting.

Keep checking back for news about when their website will be launched.

Out in the Cold

OITC is a grassroots event to raise money and awareness of homelessness and housing issues.

Founded in March 2007 Out in the Cold is a grassroots, student-run event held every November, where students and community members are invited to spend the night outside on campus, to raise money and awareness of homelessness issues in their local community.

We are continuing the Out in the Cold initiative by sharing a model by which other schools and universities can adapt to their respective campus and local community. www.outinthecold.ca was launched in October 2009 as an online portal to document the growth of this grassroots initiative. It is our goal to provide the tools necessary for people in other schools and universities to organize similar events in order to provide a better understanding of issues surrounding homelessness, poverty and housing stability.

Causes of homelessness include poverty and a lack of affordable housing. Root causes of poverty include low income, unemployment or underemployment, social isolation, racism, low literacy, poor education, and many more. Addressing homelessness is effective social, health, and economic policy.

After three years at the University of Waterloo, the Out in the Cold model was successfully adapted at the University of Toronto campus. In November 2009, Out in the Cold was run simultaneously at both campuses, and was organized by teams of students led by Kaija Saarinen (Waterloo) and Jenna van Draanen (Toronto).

Out in the Cold Timeline

has raised over $10,000 for organizations tackling the issues of poverty and homelessness in the local community.

March 2007: University of Waterloo

November 2007: University of Waterloo

November 2008: University of Waterloo

November 2009:

University of Waterloo & University of Toronto

www.outinthecold.ca launched

November 2010:

Our goal is to apply this model to schools and universities across Canada. Please contact us if you would like to host Out in the Cold in your local community.

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Taking Effective Policy Action

I recently attended a forum called, Taking Effective Action. The forum was part of Opportunities Waterloo Region‘s Community Conversations Series. The forum gave some practical advise to develop a toolkit of steps to impact policy change. The presenter was Nancy Dubois. Nancy has been a consultant with The Health Communications Unit (THCU) since 1998. She works with groups across the province in areas of planning, evaluation, policy development, sustainability, health communication and comprehensive workplace health.

Opportunities Waterloo Region, or just Opportunities for short, acts as a regional convener – a community support organization – exclusively focused on facilitating poverty prevention and reduction strategies, providing opportunities for the community to generate ideas and take action, building on existing assets and increasing community strengths.

The organization is currently underway in a campaign to influence public policy at a regional level. That campaign is for the Living Wage. The Region of Waterloo is considering implementing a Living Wage Policy for its employees and contractors and Opportunities is hard at work to inform the councillors and the citizens of the region to support such a policy. Click here for a PDF of a report from the Social Services for the Living Wage.

Here are some notes on the Conversation:

What is Policy?

  • At a macro level, policy provides more equitable access to the determinants of health; determinants such as income, housing, etc. Nancy comes from a health promotion background, so many of her speaking points make reference to health related policies, however, she did drive the message that health is very closely related to other measures of the quality of life of an individual.

“Canada is extremely progressive in terms of health promotions.” – Nancy

  • Good for Canada. I was not aware of this and it made me proud. A number of times, Nancy made reference to anti-smoking campaigns in Canada and how successful they have been. I have noticed that compared to other countries, when I look around in a populated area in Canada, there is a noticeable lack of smokers. Good clean air for all!

Why take a policy approach?

  • This question makes sense considering the audience in the room. Many of the participants of the conversation were coming from the non-profit sector that are actively engaged in community building projects and campaigns to influence attitudes. Other approaches that these organizations may take to influence and inform populations of people are awareness campaigns (large scale events to inform people of an issue), and educational campaigns (for example, the anti-smoking campaigns that used advertisements to inform people of the ill effects of smoking).

“Good” Policy is…

  • economically feasible
  • politically acceptable
  • socially acceptable
  • administratively and technologically possible

What kinds of policy work is the Ontario Government doing in regards to poverty reduction?

  • Bill 152: Poverty Reduction Act (May, 2009)
  • Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy (Dec 2008)
  • Full-Time Kindergarden

Nancy provided everyone with a handout on how to do policy work. It is a short and clear step by step process to engage in policy change.

Click here to download a PDF of the full handout–it is a great resource.