Measuring Our Community's Progress

17 Policy Option Progress

Assessment of Progress

Limited ProgressLimited Progress Little priority, resources and/or activity

Some ProgressSome Progress Some priority, resources and/or activity

Significant ProgressSignificant Progress Highly prioritized, resourced and/or increased activity, policy implemented

Overall

1. Develop a Multi-Year, Targeted Plan to Reduce Poverty

Develop an effective plan to reduce poverty and health inequality for Saskatoon and Saskatchewan that includes a multi-year approach with concrete measurable targets, broad support and an evaluation plan.

Rationale for the assessment:Some Progress Some progress

This option refers to both Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. While Saskatoon has made progress (SPRP, Saskatoon Speaks), there is still little being done in Saskatchewan for the development of an action plan to reduce poverty. Saskatchewan is one of three jurisdictions (BC & AB) without any government action towards a poverty reduction strategy. More grassroots movement is happening in the form of Poverty Free Saskatchewan; who released a report in 2010: Let's do something about Poverty!

Income

2. Remove Working Earning Clawbacks

(The terminology used by the Ministry of Social Services is "earned income exemptions") Work earning supplements should be coupled with the removal of work earning clawbacks to transition return to work and promote voluntary withdrawal from social assistance

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

There has been activity around disability, child care subsidy and the transitional employment allowance; however, there are no earning exemptions for any clients under the Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) program. Earnings are deducted dollar for dollar from welfare benefits.

3. Index Social Assistance rates to Inflation

Social assistance rates should be increased as recommended in policy option #3 and then index future rates to inflation

Rationale for the assessment: Limited ProgressLimited progress

In the past ten years, the government has increased social assistance rates, but has not indexed future rates to inflation as this policy option suggests. Further research is required on the economic analysis of rate increase over the years to determine whether there has been a significant increase.

4. Increase Public Understanding of Social Determinants of Health

Enhance the understanding of the general public about the determinants of health and the economic costs of not proactively addressing poverty

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

The Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition has been a champion in this area along with Public Health Services, and Primary Health Services, Saskatoon Health Region, the Saskatoon Regional Intersectoral Committee, SPRP and many others at community, provincial and national levels. There has also been some federal activity in publishing of 'The Cost of Poverty'. However, the essence of this policy option is to enhance general public understanding of the determinants of health and economic costs, and there is still more work needed to do accomplish this.

Education

5. Increase Support for Community Schools

Provide health and social services to schools in low income neighbourhoods in order to prevent school drop-out, encourage academic achievement, increase graduation rates and improve health

Rationale for the assessment: Significant ProgressSignificant Progress

The Health Disparity in Saskatoon: Analysis to Intervention report influenced the Ministry's strategic directions to increase support for community schools. For example;

  • The Ministry of Social Services increased programs and funding for improving school infrastructure.
  • The Coalition Objective-Restore Equity (C.O.R.E.) transitioned into the Building Health Equity Program.
  • The Health Promoting Schools Program is now being offered to nineteen schools in the Region

The core of this policy option is whether this has affected preventing school drop out, encouraged academic achievements, increased graduation rates and improved health. While resources have been allocated, measures to determine the impact and wider community response are currently lacking.

6. Universal Child Care for Low Income Parents

Child care should be provided to all low income parents at no direct cost in community schools in low income neighbourhoods The pre-school and pre-kindergarten programs should be expanded in community schools in low income neighbourhoods and be provided at no direct cost to low income parents.

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

There is an intersectoral group in Saskatoon trying to get this issue on the agenda. While there is Income Assistance Service delivery from the Province, and more child care spots being opened in Saskatchewan as well as new pre-K programs being opened, there is still no universal child care in community schools in low income neighbourhoods as suggested in the policy option.

7. Reserve Education Placements for Low Income Students

Learning institutions like SIAST should allocate 10% of their existing skills training vacancies to adults who have been on social assistance for more than one year to take the program at no cost. Free child care (policy option #16) should be provided to those who choose to enter school in order to better their chances to re-enter the workforce in a skilled vocation. The skills training sessions should be adapted to include academic support and if required support from health services (i.e., mental health).

Rationale for the assessment: Limited ProgressLimited progress

This policy option suggests that schools such as SIAST should allocate 10% of their existing skills training vacancies to adults who have been on social assistance for more than one year to take the program at no cost. SIAST does not reserve placements for low income students; although they do for Aboriginal and those with disabilities depending on the program.

Housing

8. Expand Affordable Housing Projects

The City of Saskatoon should continue to examine the benefits of development of a Land Trust, designating surplus city land to affordable housing projects, inclusionary zoning, improving the speed of approval process for affordable housing and a five year tax abatement for affordable housing projects/units

Rationale for the assessment: Significant ProgressSignificant progress

Based on the description of this policy option, the City of Saskatoon has met many of the activities described. For example, benefits of development of a Land Trust, designating surplus city land to affordable housing projects, inclusionary zoning, improving the speed of approval process for affordable housing and a five year tax abatement for affordable housing projects/units. The Housing Strategy handed down from the Province will begin implementation and the City also written a Saskatoon Housing and Homelessness Plan (2011-2014).

9. Support for Home Ownership

The provincial government should consider investing in a Saskatoon-based home ownership pilot program to convert 31 multi-units provincially owned affordable rental units to home ownership. A long-term rent-to-own program should be considered to increase the number of households in stable, safe, affordable housing.

Rationale for the assessment Some Progress: Some progress

There is an increased number of persons on the wait list for home ownership programs than ever before. CUMFI QUINT, Innovation Residential, Affordable New Home Development Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity have all done work in the area of home ownership. In addition, an Equity Building Program began in March 2011 (City of Saskatoon and Affinity Credit Union). The government and city are refocusing efforts on housing and have both released reports recently to address housing plans.

10. Develop a Long-term, Consolidated, Comprehensive, Interagency Social Housing System for Hard to House Individuals

Develop a long term, consolidated, comprehensive, interagency social housing system in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan for hard to house individuals; including those living with mental health problems and addictions

Rationale for the assessment: Limited ProgressLimited progress

A number of Saskatoon Regional Intersectoral Committee (SRIC) member organizations are very active in trying to address the homelessness issue and increase the number of affordable housing units in Saskatoon. On June 19, 2009 the SRIC co-Chairs wrote a letter to the provincial Co-Chairs of the Human Service Integration Forum to recommend funding for the "Lost Souls" proposal of 2007, as requested by the SRIC Sub-Committee. Other work includes the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and Saskatchewan's HIV Strategy 2010-2014. "The social determinants of health that impact risks of acquiring HIV, especially injection drug use, include factors such as poverty, inadequate housing, lack of education or job training," however, nothing has been implemented yet. As stated in the policy option those living with mental health problems and addictions still lack social housing and a reprioritization to this area is much needed.

11. Increase Monthly Shelter Allowances

The Saskatchewan government should consider increasing monthly shelter allowances for all households receiving income assistance to match the 2008 average monthly rental rate and also include the total monthly cost for utilities. In addition, shelter allowance rates should be reviewed bi-annually and compared to current average monthly shelter rates and brought up to market standards when necessary.

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

As of April 1, 2011, shelter allowances have gone up, just not back to 2008 rates. The shelter allowance increases for the adjusted categories ranges from $2 to $19 per month for SAP and TEA, and from $1 to $8 per month for the SRHS, depending on each client's place of residence and individual circumstances. Since 2005 maximum shelter allowance rates are based on household size (including children) and geographic location and a four-tier scale is being used. The policy option proposes to increase monthly shelter allowances for all households receiving income assistance to match the 2008 average monthly rental rate and also include the total monthly cost for utilities. This is not the case.

12. Renewed Federal Responsibility for Social Housing

The federal government needs to restore funding for social housing to the levels established prior to 1986

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

In the 2008 federal budget, $110 million over 5 years was allocated to a housing initiative. Recruitment was completed in June 2011. An early findings report (qualitative data) was published in April 2011. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/Pages/homelessness.aspx

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology wrote a report called, In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness. There are also conversations happening at a federal level to influence action in this area. But, the government has yet to restore funding to social housing to the levels established prior to 1986 as proposed in this option.

Employment

13. Setting measurable Goals: More Work for Aboriginal People

Aboriginal representation in the workforce should increase to 15% of full time service jobs, 15% of management positions and 15% of professional workplaces within 10 years; or by 2017

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

There have been limited targets in the community set for the year 2017 as put forward in this option. The Saskatoon Regional Intersectoral Committee in collaboration with other partners developed the Saskatoon Aboriginal Employment Strategy: Background Research and Best Practices; however, it does not have targets, but instead goals. Saskatoon Health Region has set targets for aboriginal representation in the workforce which is included on the health region's dashboard, The objective is to achieve an overall increase of self-identified Aboriginal employees from 4 percent in 2010 to 10.0 percent by 2014. Achieving 10.0 percent representation within the next five years will require a net increase of 139 Aboriginal staff each year for the next five years. The Saskatchewan Government has also been involved in this issue, and launched a First Nations and Métis Education and Employment Strategy to deliver $21.4 M for Adult Basic Education (ABE) and literacy programs to increase employment outcomes.

14. Comprehensive Return to Work Programs

Return to work programs should include a comprehensive combination of adapted skills training, job search, job placement, on the job experience and life skills training in order to increase chances of transitional return to work. Health services should augment the return to work process when required.

Rationale for the assessment: Significant ProgressSignificant progress

The Saskatchewan government has return to work programs such as Accelerating Connections to Employment (ACE) to accelerate the transition to work for employable clients in receipt of the Saskatchewan Assistance Program and the Transitional Employment Allowance. Employment Service for Parents launched in 2008 (through the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration). The Ministry of Social Services offers an allowance for low-income people for expenses incidental to commencing employment. Other actiivties include; - Canada-Saskatchewan Rapid Response Teams - Discount Bus Pass Program - The Workplace Essential Skills Saskatchewan Initiative - Provincial Training Allowance Saskatoon Health Region has worked on its own programs as recommended in this policy option ('health services should augment…'). For example, SHR's duty to accommodate policy was amended.

Health Services

15. More Health Resources in Low Income Neighbourhoods

The number of health resources in Saskatoon's low income neighbourhoods should be proportionate to the size of the population; and its disproportionate number of health disorders

Rationale for the assessment: Some ProgressSome progress

In the past, health resources were measured based on number of physicians in a defined geography. The Health Disparity in Saskatoon: Analysis to Intervention report influenced allocation of resources in low income neighbourhoods, therefore activity has increased. - OASIS (Opportunity, Acceptance, Support, Invitation and Safe), is a new drop-in community program that helps with parenting and life skills; ways to cope with anxiety, grief and stress; relaxation techniques, nutrition, cooking classes and combating addiction. - Annual Funding Pledged for Inner-city Mobile Bus: The Health Bus provides primary health services to Saskatoon's core neighbourhoods and is an innovative community treatment venue for those in need of resources closer to home. - Saskatoon Community Clinic - Station 20 West - Saskatoon Health Region has also applied a health equity lens to its work

Newly Proposed

16. Resident led neighbourhood development

17. Broader Engagement with Business and Labour Communities

 

Contact us if you think we are missing any information regarding our Policy Options Progress.

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