Glen Abernethy: Anti-Poverty Round Table and Territorial Action Plan

Mr. Speaker, the late Nelson Mandela said that overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right; the right to dignity and a decent life. As a government, we are committed to helping residents be self-reliant and to live with dignity. We have made investments in a wide range of programs, including education, housing, early childhood development, health promotion, and addiction prevention and treatment to help reduce and prevent poverty in our territory. However, government alone cannot eliminate poverty. It takes a coordinated response from communities, Aboriginal governments, non-government organizations and businesses.

Annual Anti-Poverty Round Tables that engage representatives from all sectors in every region provide an important way to share success stories and identify common issues and priorities. These collective discussions help align the poverty reduction efforts of all partners for maximum impact.

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2014 the second annual NWT Anti-Poverty Round Table was held in Yellowknife. Over 100 delegates from community organizations, Aboriginal and community governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses from every region of the NWT came together to identify and address key priorities to reduce and prevent poverty. The common themes that emerged from the Round Table were food security, homelessness, on-the-land programs, early childhood, and wellness.

Mr. Speaker, the atmosphere at the Round Table was positive and encouraging. We are using input gathered at this event to finalize a Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan.

This Territorial Action Plan, developed under the leadership of the Anti-Poverty Advisory Committee I established last year, is a multi-stakeholder plan that will address priorities identified by stakeholders and provide a road map to help guide our collective efforts for reducing and preventing poverty.

Another important component of the fight against poverty is the GNWT Anti-Poverty Fund. This $500,000 fund was created to support community-based anti-poverty efforts and allow territorial stakeholders to submit funding proposals for initiatives to tackle poverty or symptoms of poverty in their communities, regions or at a territorial level. Fourteen projects, covering a range of innovative activities from communities across the NWT are currently being funded and we anticipate receiving even more applications for the 2015 fund.

Mr. Speaker, healthy, educated people free from poverty is one of the goals of the Assembly and the Government of the Northwest Territories. It is only by forming a strong circle of partnerships that we can be successful in reducing and preventing poverty. Working together we will help residents live with dignity and self-reliance.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.