Poverty Elimination

PFKW Brochure

Poverty Free Kitchener Waterloo is an action group of the Social Development Centre. It has been active since 2011 and has formed during the Social Assistance Review process by the organizations and individuals that have been long standing contributors and partners of the Social Development Centre dedicated to poverty elimination initiatives. The group is committed to building a community of like-minded people able to take on strategic actions toward greater income equality.

The group is taking part in all the budget and policy consultations that impact the lives of people living in poverty (click to read more of the analysis and commentaryand is working directly with people with lived experience of poverty to create a local framework of criteria that would be able to measure the outcomes of poverty reduction policies and plans in their day to day lives.

Systemic Analysis of Poverty 2014-2017

Through input provided by local and provincial groups and agencies, involving conversations with the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy team, we are aiming to provide insights and tools beneficial for the whole community. Under the leadership of Stephen Baetz, LIVE Consultants Inc, the Poverty Free KW Action Group has been cruical in bringing in a diversity of voices to support the Social Development Centre in applying a specific form of system analysis to unravel the causes behind the mindsets, forces and relationships in our society keeping people in poverty. The causes are reinforced at different levels, at the level of individual experience, wider community and global structural factors. Although there is still much work to be done, the learning to this point has been valuable in many respects:

  • helping people living in precarious conditions make sense of some of the common experiences,
  • helping agencies and groups providing services take a deeper look into their own experience and how it impacts poverty in the community,
  • helping with the initial conversations to connect non-profit, for-profit and public sector view of the impact that the global and national social and economic policy have on perpetuation of poverty. 


Reversing the Cycles of Poverty - 2017 Report

Local Poverty Elimination Framework 2013-2015

Since 2011, a major undertaking has been ongoing through community procceses and has shaped into local criteria that would measure the impact of poverty reduction plans and strategies in everyday life. Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group has been working to develop check-lists and guidelines for each of the criteria in the framework to share what poverty reduction should look like - from the perspective of low income individuals and families in the first place.

Existing groups such as Disabilities and Human Rights or ALIV(e) have been contributing to the development of specific criteria, and peer supported interviews and group discussions have been guiding our team in compiling the learning based on reports of first hand experience. More details regarding each of the criteria will be introduced in 2015, but for now you can read below how useful the framework has been so far to the Poverty Free Group in responding to the consultations and budget issues in 2013/2014. To learn more about the local criteria in the Framework and to see how they have been applied in more than 20 consultations and initiatives, read the document Local Criteria Applicaiton, February 2015.Local Framework for Poverty Reduction Click on the image to see enlarged framework.

In many ways, the Framework itself has been the crucial tool making possible the assessment of budget papers and consultation documents and bringing knowledge that exists in the community to respond to proposed plans and policies for poverty reduction.


Resolution for 2013 - Following Through

The Kitchener-Waterloo community consultation on poverty reduction, hosted in January and September 2013, have shaped a community response to the two ongoing consultations both ending in October 2013: Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy and Minimum Wage Advisory Panel. At the meeting, the participants affirmed the three point proposal to be shared with the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Community and Social Services:
1. Raise the social assistance rates
2. Ensure the well-being of people with disabilities
3. Reduce Poverty for Everyone

The first forum called "Resolution for 2013-Poverty Free Ontario" was held January 19th, 2013 to give input on recommendations that have been made by the Social Assistance Review Commission. It resulted in a joint commitment statement, guided 2013 Pre-budget submission by the Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group, and launched the work on the Framework of local criteria for monitoring of successful poverty reduction outcomes.

Community Strategy 2013

Our Commitment Statement
Resolution for 2013 Forum Report
Resolution for 2013 - Forum Presentation Page
Resolution for 2013 Panel Presentations

Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and Income Security Review Timeline in Local Context:

2007 - Ontario Government makes commitment to create a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy by December 2008. Minister Deb Matthews appointed to lead the process.
May 2008 – Social Planning Network of Ontario hosts a planning session with key provincial associations and presents the Blue Print for Poverty Reduction to Minister Mathews.
May 2008 – Community Consultations begin
July 2008 – Social Development Centre Waterloo Region hosts Social Planning Network of Ontario Blueprint for Poverty presentation and assists with engaging participation in local consultations.
December 2008 – Ontario government released “Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy”. The Social Development Centre Waterloo Region facilitated a local response to this plan from local leaders and from members of the Disabilities and Human Rights Group.
February 2009 - Social Development Centre Waterloo Region joined others in the Social Planning Network of Ontario to request an immediate inclusion of $100 per month to all social assistance recipients in the 2009 Ontario Budget as an interim step toward social assistance system reform
May 2009 – The Poverty Reduction Act approved (Bill 152)
May 2010 – Ontario Social Assistance Review Advisory Council published the “Recommendations for an Ontario Income Security Review”
November 2010 – the Government appoints Frances Larkin and Munir A. Sheikh to lead the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario
June 2011 – The Commission finishes the identification of key issues and releases the first Discussion paper: Issues and Ideas and the consultation period starts
August 2011 – Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and partners in Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group hosted a community forum to get local input on the first discussion paper, and convened a Livable and Inclusive Community working session to review how well the consultation process met principles of inclusion.
February 2012 – The Commission published the Discussion Paper 2: Approaches to Reform, and sought further input on identified potential approaches to the reform
February 2012 – Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and partners in Poverty Free Kitchener Waterloo Action Group hosted a second community forum and responded with a submission in March 2012.
October 2012 – The Commission published its final report and recommendations titled, Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario.
January 2013 – Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and partners in Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group host the third community forum to review the recommendations made by the SARC and to discuss criteria for monitoring the success of outcomes from system reform.
September 2013 - Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and partners in Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group host the community consultation and share with Catherine Fife, the MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, and with community members, the three point plan for the renewal of Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy.
October 2013 - Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and partners in Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group validate their priorities with the wider community present at the formal Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy Consultations hosted by MPP John Milloy and the Minister of Social and Community Services Ted McMeekin - read the Poverty Free Kitchener Waterloo submission to the consultations here.
December 2013 & January 2014 - Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and the Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo Action Group presented at the Regional Budget hearings.
May-June 2014 - Provincial Election June 12th was an opportunity for the Poverty Free Kitchener-Waterloo to advance its conversations about the Local Framework on Poverty Elimination with the candidates during the all-candidate sessions focused on social issues and poverty. 
June 2014 - ongoing Poverty Free KW action group is active in reaching out to individuals that are willing to share their experience and knoweldge to advance the work on the system analysis tool "Understaning Poverty at the level of individual's experience". 
October 2014 - Poverty Free KW has supported the facilitation of the round table discussion regarding poverty elimination during the All-Candidates Sessions in Kitchener and Waterloo for 2014 municipal elections. They have created the following background document "Poverty Free Region".
Fall 2014 - Poverty Free KW and the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region visited all the local MPPs and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister for Poverty Reduction, Chris Ballard to talk about the importance of the local community organizations working on poverty elimination receiving funds to continue the work and help shape local solutions to poverty reduction. Other issues discussed were the inadequacy of the social assistance rates, minimum wage and the need for investment in community based computer and Internet access points to support people in accessing information and using technology.
January 2015 - Poverty Free KW took part in the 2015 Ontario pre-budget consultations and submitted the following comments.
September 2015 - Poverty Free KW was invited to take part in the 2015 Changing Workplace Review on the provincial labour legislation and made the following submission.
September-October 2015 - Together with the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region (previously knows as the Social Planning Centre Kitchener-Waterloo), Poverty Free KW Action Group co-organized three all-candidates interactive meetings in Kitchener Centre, Waterloo and Kitchener-Conestoga electoral districts. 
During 2015 the Poverty Free KW Action Group took part, together with the Disabilities and Human Rights Group in supporting the Decent Lives forums in May, June and December, building a strategy to address poverty reduction work in Kitchener-Waterloo neighbourhoods.