Glen Abernethy - Anti-Poverty Action Plan

October 29, 2013
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

(October 29, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, one of the goals this Assembly set out to achieve almost two years ago is a healthy, educated people, free from poverty.  To move towards this goal, the Premier committed to the development of an Anti-Poverty Strategy.

In June, I had the pleasure of tabling Building on the Strengths of Northerners: A Strategic Framework toward the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT. This Framework provides a roadmap for us to work in collaboration with our partners to eliminate poverty in our communities.

The development of this document was a joint effort led by a Steering Committee made up of representatives of the private sector, NGO’s, and governments. It incorporates input received during several years of consultation across the North, and reflects the complexity of poverty and its links to the social determinants of health.  The Framework targets five priority areas, with a focus on children and families, healthy living, safe and affordable housing, sustainable communities and better integration of services.

The development of this Framework was merely the starting point for our efforts to eliminate poverty in the NWT.  We are now at the stage where we must develop and implement comprehensive action plans.

Work on this has begun.   My colleagues in the Social Envelope and I are working together to develop an integrated, cross-departmental government action plan that will pull together the actions already being taken by all departments, as well as identify further actions needed and funding required.  This comprehensive plan will be ready for presentation to this Assembly in the new year.

But the elimination of poverty is not a goal that can be achieved by government alone.  We need to work with communities, Aboriginal governments, and non-government organizations as well as the private sector to develop a truly comprehensive, territorial action plan.  To kick-start this work I will host a roundtable next month to which representatives of all sectors will be invited.

None of us have identical goals. All governments and agencies have different mandates and priorities. But we have more in common than we have differences. We can see where we might work together to achieve our common goals and identify steps each of us can take. We’ll start there. Together, we will set shared actions and ensure long-term benefits for all our people. Government alone cannot eliminate poverty, but if each of us commits to doing whatever we can within our respective mandates, I am confident we will succeed.

Many groups and communities are already working towards our shared goal of elimination of poverty.  I recently had the honour of speaking at a workshop designed for communities and non-government organizations to share their ideas, challenges and successes in addressing poverty.  This workshop was organized by the No Place for Poverty Coalition with financial support from the Government of the Northwest Territories.   It brought together over 50 people from across the NWT, all of whom had experience in living with poverty or dealing with its impact.  This gathering is a demonstration of the commitment of many people to our shared goal, and conclusions and recommendations from the workshop will be brought forward for consideration at the November round table.

Mr. Speaker, together we can build a strong, sustainable future for our Territory.  I look forward to continuing to work with Members of this Assembly, Aboriginal and community governments, NGO’s, representatives of business and industry as we develop, and then implement, a comprehensive Action Plan that will move us closer to our goal of a truly poverty-free territory.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.