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Poverty and Prosperity in Nunavut

Ken Battle and Sherri Torjman, November 2013

The Caledon Institute of Social Policy was engaged by the Nunavut Anti-Poverty Secretariat, which provides oversight and leadership to support the Nunavut Roundtable for Poverty Reduction in the implementation of Nunavut’s poverty reduction strategy.  We were asked to comment on Nunavut’s social safety net and to consider a ‘made-in-Nunavut’ social policy inspired by Nunavut’s unique history and values, and geared to its social, demographic, economic and political characteristics.  The paper is intended to launch an exchange of ideas on a new social vision for Nunavut.

This Social Vision sketches out a wide range of social programs in Nunavut in the areas of early childhood development, education and literacy, skills training, regional economic, affordable housing and income security.  The main focus is income security policy, a vital area in which both the Nunavut and federal governments play key roles.  Nunavut is fortunate to have in place several federal and territorial income security programs that could be rebuilt and strengthened.

The report recommends that social assistance, the dominant program throughout Nunavut’s short life, should gradually revert to its original purpose as last-resort temporary assistance. Other geared-to-income programs, including a new Basic Income, enhanced child benefits, stronger earnings supplements and more accessible Employment Insurance, could eventually displace most of welfare.  These programs would enhance incentives to work while, at the same time, reduce poverty and improve living standards for low- and modest-income residents of Nunavut.

ISBN – 1-55382-584-5

View full document in PDF format.

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