The B.C. government’s public consultations into the development of a poverty reduction plan have ended.

Now the ideas and recommendations from hundreds of British Columbians are in the hands of the government as it turns all that input into the official plan. We’ve been told to expect enabling legislation—including legislated targets and timelines—for the fall session of the B.C. Legislature and a comprehensive plan by the end of 2018.

It’s great that the plan will include legislated targets and timelines. But what those targets and timelines will actually be remains to be seen. And based on engagements the CCPA and our coalition partners have had with the government to date, one area where it seems ministry architects are reluctant to set targets is with respect to the depth of poverty.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has released a report on its consultations with Saskatoon renters, and it identifies discrimination against single mothers, those on social assistance and Indigenous people by landlords in the city.

During consultation, which started in 2015, stakeholders in the sector — including social workers, people on social assistance, renters and others who work in the sector — spoke about their experiences and the overt discrimination they’ve faced.

Some said landlords even advertised “no welfare,” or “no single mothers” in online ads.

Total visits dropped to 186,835 during the first three months of the year, a decline of 8 per cent when compared to the first quarter of 2017, according to an update report, released Thursday.

Daily Bread credits several social policy changes for the drop, including an easing of provincial welfare rules over the past year, indexing of the Canada child benefit last July, and Ontario’s minimum wage boost to $14 on Jan. 1.

It is the first time food bank use has dropped during the first quarter — the post-holiday period when visits usually spike — since 2014, when Daily Bread began compiling data in this way, he noted.

Community advocates are looking for some leadership from our city’s elected officials. We need our mayor to lead on poverty reduction. Did you know that the City of Winnipeg has a 10-year plan to end homelessness, but it still doesn’t have a poverty reduction plan? Anti-poverty advocates believe that all three levels of government have a role to play when it comes to ending poverty and homelessness in Winnipeg.

I believe that a Winnipeg without poverty is possible. My vision for the City of Winnipeg is that of a caring and inclusive community. One where the lives of all of its citizens matter. We need more men and women at city hall who will stand-up and fight for the little guy!

What we’ve learned from history is that income security programs are the way to go — the older adult population is a key case in point. By providing financial stability to older adults through various income security programs (e.g., old age security, the guaranteed income supplement), we, at one point, virtually eliminated poverty for this population.

Findings, too, from the Mincome study, documented by Evelyn Forget at the University of Manitoba, showed that by providing people with a basic income in Dauphin, Man., there was a reduction in the hospitalization rate of almost 10 per cent in just four years. That amounts to significant savings in health care dollars.

Charity as the solution? Think again. Food and meal programs have never been able to solve food insecurity because they don’t address the root of the problem: a lack of financial resources.

The city is gearing up to test an innovative way to combat homelessness and unstable housing in Kingston.

As the vacancy rate in Kingston reaches an alarming low and the cost of renting continues to increase, the city is introducing a new pilot program called Portable Housing Benefits to help alleviate the cost of housing.

Earlier this year, the 2017 Housing and Homelessness report showed that the vacancy rate in Kingston had reached a startling 0.7 per cent. Vacancy rates are the number of houses in the city that are available for people to move into, with a healthy vacancy rate considered to be around three per cent.

Benefit sanctions are largely ineffective and in some cases push people into poverty and crime, our major study has found.

The research found little evidence that benefit sanctions enhance people’s motivation to prepare for or enter paid work and, by contrast, routinely trigger profoundly negative personal, financial and health outcomes.

The findings, conducted by the WelCond project and led by led by the University of York, show that some people are pushed into destitution, survival crime and ill health as a result of welfare conditionality.