New Poverty Reduction Strategies from Nunavut – Pay Attention, BC!
Following almost three years of public engagement involving communities, Inuit organizations, the private sector and government, the Nunavut Legislative Assembly passed Bill 59, the Collaboration for Poverty Reduction Act, a groundbreaking approach to inclusive policy development for poverty reduction. The Collaboration for Poverty Reduction Act requires the Government of Nunavut to:
“Participate as a partner with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Inuit organizations, other governments, non-government organizations and businesses on the Nunavut Roundtable for Poverty Reduction to implement The Makimaniq Plan and the five-year poverty reduction action plan in a manner consistent with Article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.”
The Act received the unanimous support of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. “The Act will ensure that the Government works in collaboration with others to produce a long-term poverty reduction action plan,” said Monica Ell, Minister of Family Services. “We recognize that to reduce poverty, we must work in partnership. Everyone has a role to play.”
What makes this legislation remarkable is that it has written into it a legislative requirement for a collaborative approach to addressing a complex, large-scale societal issue. The legislation is framed to establish a genuine partnership, through the creation of the Poverty Reduction Roundtable. The Roundtable is designed not to be just another advisory body. It is an independent not-for-profit organization that will be jointly managed by Inuit organizations, communities, the private sector and government, all as equal partners. The law requires the minister responsible for poverty to attend all Roundtable meetings and to work with the partners to create and deliver a genuinely collaborative plan to reduce poverty.
Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak believes that government cannot solve poverty on its own. The community as a whole needs to work together in order to achieve real change. She draws on the cultural roots of the Inuit. To survive in a harsh environment, the Inuit learned to work together to solve all kinds of problems; individuals could only survive as part of a strong community that worked together in mutual support. She wants to address the centralized, top-down structure of government that leaves little room for people to play a meaningful role in problem-solving for their community, and which has, over time, weakened Inuit communities, culture, and self-reliance. She believes that the first step is for government to stop imposing its plans on communities and to learn to work with them. The Collaboration for Poverty Reduction Act is a bold first step.