Poverty Costs: An Economic Case for a Preventative Poverty Reduction Strategy in Alberta

Vibrant Communities Calgary & Action to End Poverty in Alberta

Year: 2012

Our approach is based on methodology that has been used provincially in Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia. These provinces found substantial savings to governments, taxpayers, and individuals living in poverty, where the incomes of the bottom earners were increased. The conclusions are clear: investing in poverty prevention would be much less costly in the long run than spending to alleviate poverty in perpetuity. It was this compelling cost-benefit approach to poverty reduction that instigated this report in Alberta.

Before taking further action on poverty in Alberta, we should ask ourselves about our underlying assumptions, and about how effective our strategies have been thus far: Are we basing our efforts on ideology or proven strategies? Are we using a balanced combination of poverty alleviation and poverty prevention approaches? Are we succumbing to the myth that poverty is primarily about individual choices rather than the systems we create in our societies? What is our track record?

By providing economic evidence to help inform the creation of policy, this report encourages decision-makers and all Albertans to consider the financial efficacy of the policies we currently have in place; encourages us to consider alternatives; and will hopefully facilitate consensus among divergent values and opinions in Alberta. Ultimately, this report aims to contribute to an effective, meaningful, and sustainable Poverty Reduction Strategy in Alberta.