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Glen Abernethy – Anti-Poverty Roundtable and Next Steps

Glen Abernethy - Official PortraitMr. Speaker, our government is committed to this Assembly’s goal of helping our residents become healthy, educated people free from poverty. A strong territory needs a strong society and all residents of the NWT should have the chance to enjoy the benefits of living in a prosperous, well-governed territory and to participate fully in a healthy, just society.

Last June, I was pleased to table the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework: Building on the Strengths of Northerners.  This important document represents input from key stakeholders and was an important first step.

Later today, I will table in the House, the GNWT’s initial response to the Framework. Our government’s Anti-Poverty Action Plan outlines the commitments we will make, starting immediately, to improve our response to poverty in the NWT.  Our Action Plan includes investments of $2.6 million.  This new funding will support day shelter programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik, and to build new housing units in four small communities for residents who may need additional support.  It will see $1 million in new spending every year to provide nutritious food directly to children and youth through established programs.

This demonstrates our government’s commitment to taking leadership in the reduction of poverty in our territory, and will form a part of the Territorial Action Plan which will include actions by all sectors and all regions of the NWT. But this is only a start.

We have always recognized that this government can’t tackle this issue alone.  We need to partner with communities, Aboriginal governments, non-government organizations and business.

Mr. Speaker, on November 28 and 29th , 2013, an NWT Anti-Poverty Roundtable was held in Dettah to begin the work of developing a Territorial Action Plan.   Many delegates in attendance left with concrete plans for action and a commitment to start on them as soon as they returned to their community.   Everyone in attendance at the Roundtable agreed that it is time to move from talk to action and that is what we are doing.  The budget includes $500,000 in new funding to support communities, Aboriginal governments and non-government organizations to get moving on community-based projects.

An Anti-Poverty Charter was presented to the delegates at the Roundtable.  This Charter symbolizes our commitment as stakeholders to work together, at all levels, towards the development of a Territorial Action Plan.

Twenty-four delegates signed on to the Charter, other organizations have subsequently signed on and we will continue to invite partners to join us.

Mr. Speaker, through the Anti-Poverty initiative funding proposed in the budget, we are also establishing an Anti-Poverty Action Plan Advisory Committee, including representatives from regions across the Northwest Territories, to lead the development of the Territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan over the next year.  This work will be undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders.

This committee will work within their regions to raise awareness and build capacity, and will provide recommendations to the Minister.

As with any major initiative, it is important to have a way of measuring progress.  Funding in the budget will enable  the Department of Health and Social Services to lead the development of a Performance Management Framework that will allow all partners to report consistently on our activities and track our overall progress.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that, working together, these initiatives will continue to move us closer to our goal of eliminating poverty in the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.