Calgary should align with federal government to define poverty line, advocates say

By Madeline Smith
StarMetro Calgary
Thu,. Aug. 23, 2018

CALGARY—The federal move to choose a measure for tracking the poverty line across the country is prompting advocates to call for local officials to do the same.

Vibrant Communities Calgary executive director Franco Savoia said it’s time for governments at all levels to align the way they track poverty.

“We are not in any way, shape or form using the same — or similar, even — measures, which creates all kinds of challenges,” Savoia said.

The federal government announced a poverty-reduction plan Tuesday that aims to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in poverty by 2030.

As part of the strategy, they said they would use the “market basket measure” to determine the poverty line in communities across the country.

Under the market basket measure, a family or person is considered to be living in poverty if they can’t afford a basic basket of goods and services that gives them a modest standard of living.

Savoia said none of the tools for analyzing poverty and the standard of living are perfect, but bringing services under a common understanding of poverty could help streamline efforts to reach people.

“I’m encouraging the city of Calgary to say, for god’s sake, let’s get behind this.”

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Photo: Vibrant Communities Calgary executive director Franco Savoia says bringing services under a common understanding of poverty could help streamline efforts to reach people.  (MADELINE SMITH / STARMETRO)

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