Community Economic Development and Poverty in Canada: Government and Policy

Author +
Anthony (Tony) Martin

Year: 2013

This study takes advantage of many years of direct action research, based in consulting and working with people across Ontario and Canada and focused generally at looking at the experience of poverty. Throughout two major consultations, “The People’s Parliament on Poverty” at the provincial level and “the Federal Contribution to Reducing Poverty in Canada” at the federal level it became obvious that there was no real coordinated policy effort that combines economic sustainability and social benefit on behalf of those most at risk and marginalized in our communities. The ideological divide in government combined with a selfish turf protection in the delivery of a patchwork of programs and services has conspired to block any meaningful effort to deal comprehensively with a growing and deepening poverty reality.

This study, conducted through a literature search, conversations in focus groups, interviews and a review of the findings of the two consultations mentioned above, looks at the potential for Community Economic Development (CED) to be a catalyst, or to play a central role, in a national anti poverty strategy. The study concludes that there certainly is potential for CED to play this role, but it will require a commitment by all partners to be open to the contributions and efforts of others, collaborative action and a sincere focus on the needs of fragile and abandoned communities.

A legislative framework at the Federal Government level with leadership and resources could drive a CED action plan that would incent regions, sectors and local initiatives to engage on a larger scale. The Quebec Social Economy and the work being done by the Chantier de l’économie sociale, has a lot of practical experience to offer the rest of Canada.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Background
1.2 Research Questions

2. Methodology

2.1 Archival Documentation
2.2 Focus Groups
2.3 Interviews
2.4 Ethical

3. Literature Review

3.1 Poverty
3.2 Community
3.3 Community Development
3.4 Community Based Collaborative Development
3.5 CED and Anti Poverty Approaches
3.6 Getting Agreement on Structure, Collaboration and Governance
3.7 Government
3.8 Summary of the Literature

4. The Complex Faces of Poverty

5. Findings

5.1 Macro, National and Global
5.2 Micro, Local
5.3 New Efforts at CED Definition
5.4 Role for CED in a National Anti-Poverty strategy
5.5 Limitations of CED
5.5 Scalability
5.6 Charity vs. Development Model
5.7 Government Role
5.8 Challenges to Implementation
5.9 Quebec


6.1 Take back the agenda
6.2 Adopt a definition
6.3 Scale it up
6.4 Co-operation between Regions, Sectors and Local Initiatives
6.5 Challenge the larger more successful CED (Credit Unions and Co-ops for example) entities to remember their roots
6.5 Implement a Legislative Framework at the Federal government level

7. Summary