The Niagara Research and Planning Council was a partner in gathering the evidence behind the policy brief “Are the Consequences of Poverty Holding Niagara Back?”, released on September 26, 2012 by the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University. It highlights that the consequences of poverty cost Niagara $1.38 billion/year, including both direct and indirect costs.
The brief calls for us to focus on an investment strategy that emphasizes development of people as a key economic development driver for Niagara. When you read the brief, you will see that what it’s really talking about is a better quality of life and stronger future for all of Niagara. It provides a clear formula for us to think and invest in a new, more efficient way.
Think about Niagara’s economic development as a simple equation: A + B = C, where:
“A” is a more vibrant, globally-connected, economically sustainable Niagara, which could be expressed as our ‘gross domestic product’;
“B” is development of people, measured in indices of wellbeing, such as living standards, education, healthy populations, etc. (see Canadian Index of Wellbeing); and
“C” is the presence of the highest possible quality of life for everyone in Niagara.
This equation will only add up when we put equal energy into both “A” and “B”. One is not more important than the other, nor are they mutually exclusive. Currently in Niagara, our economic development focus is on “A”. The evidence presented in this policy brief equips us to equally focus on “B” so that we are able to arrive at “C” – better quality of life, Niagara-wide. In other words, when we get to “C”, we will have reduced the impact of the consequences of poverty for all of us.
The policy brief concludes by illustrating what a poverty reduction investment strategy for Niagara looks like. It states:
“Much of the evidence that we need to build our strategy exists: it is organized, well-researched, analyzed and ready to go. To further inform the strategy, the business sector in Niagara could help to design the investment plan in collaboration with community partners.
The roots of the consequences of poverty are multi-faceted and complex. Thus, the investment strategy that we undertake in Niagara will require acknowledgement that it, too, will be multi-faceted and complex. It will require Niagara-wide cooperation, leadership and innovation to achieve our collective return on investment”.
The Niagara Research and Planning Council is gathering interested community partners to create a Niagara-wide Poverty Reduction Investment Strategy. For more information, please contact us.