The EndPovertyEdmonton team visited Hamilton recently for the “Cities Reducing Poverty: When Business is Engaged” summit, hosted by the Tamarack Institute’s Vibrant Communities Canada.
We were joined by over 300 colleagues tackling poverty at the municipal, provincial, federal and non-governmental levels across the country. However, the main emphasis of the conference was about engaging business effectively. This included a keynote speech by Michael McCain on a new initiative to reduce food waste and another address by Hamilton businessman Mark Chamberlain, who is the past chair of Hamilton’s Poverty Reduction Roundtable. Referencing major strides made towards public health over the years, he asked the audience “Are we trying to solve the right problem?” when it comes to poverty. He and others at the conference implied that incremental change may be slow and frustrating but sometimes it may be the most effective way to have an impact on poverty.
Hamilton was a fitting host city, given that its mayor, Fred Eisenberger, had just spearheaded a $50 million plan to tackle housing and poverty over 10 years. Other cities making major strides included Victoria, B.C. with its new Social Procurement Plan and St. Catherines, ON, which is now in the process of adopting a “compassionate city” strategy.
Topics at the summit included how to encourage businesses to pay a living wage, promoting universal basic income and engaging those with lived experience through innovative programs such as Hamilton’s “Speakers’ Bureau”.
The Hamilton conference followed up on last year’s poverty reduction summit in Edmonton, which included a keynote by Mayor Don Iveson. This year, the Edmonton contingent was busy sharing the EndPovertyEdmonton story. The EPE team held a workshop session on the EndPovertyEdmonton journey, with a special emphasis on the human rights & reconciliation approach that grounds our work while Bishop Jane Alexander provided consultation on the National Poverty Strategy with Member of Parliament Adam Vaughan, the Parliamentary Secretary for Housing and Urban Affairs. Sandra Huculak shared how Alberta Treasury Branch is working with Boyle Street Services to engage women in financial empowerment with its pioneering EmpowerU initiative while the Edmonton Community Foundation shared its strategy for creating a Community Development Corporation.
The team left Hamilton recharged and inspired by the stories of colleagues across the country engaged in the same work, while happy to share the emerging EndPovertyEdmonton story.