Provincial and territorial ministers responsible for social services met today, July 31, in Halifax to discuss key social policy issues including: income security for Canadians and reducing poverty; improving outcomes for Indigenous children and youth; and improving supports for families and children with autism spectrum disorder.
Ministers highlighted the importance of providing effective and innovative social services to Canadians to meet their distinct needs. The meeting was an opportunity for provinces and territories to discuss how best to continue working together on areas of common interest.
Provincial and territorial ministers had a thorough conversation about their respective approaches and initiatives to prevent and reduce poverty. Ministers agreed that, although their approaches might differ, they “are united in their vision of a Canada where all individuals are included, can develop to their full potential and can participate fully in social and economic life”. Ministers agreed to the statement below about poverty reduction, “Meeting the Challenge: Provincial-Territorial Vision Statement on Poverty Reduction”.
Ministers noted the federal government’s intentions to release a federal poverty reduction strategy. Ministers are keen to review that strategy to see how it aligns with existing provincial and territorial poverty reduction efforts.
Ministers are committed to transforming child welfare to improve outcomes for Indigenous children and youth. Change is underway and will take time and require continued, intensive effort on the part of the provinces and territories and their partners, including Indigenous leaders, communities, and families.
Ministers will continue to maintain an open dialogue and engage their respective First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners in the ongoing work in their jurisdictions to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care.
Ministers look forward to receiving more information from the federal government about its plans to develop federal Indigenous child and family services legislation and plans to address the requirements of Jordan’s Principle. It is critical to ensure that these federal directions will work effectively with provincial and territorial initiatives already underway. Ministers highlighted the importance of respecting the responsibilities of each order of government, most of all the constitutional and fiduciary responsibilities of the federal government toward Indigenous peoples.
The meeting was chaired by Kelly Regan, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Community Services.
“I was pleased to welcome my provincial and territorial colleagues to Nova Scotia,” said Ms. Regan. “We had a valuable opportunity to discuss issues that impact our communities, families, and children. We were able to develop a shared understanding of the ways these issues affect our jurisdictions and set the stage for further discussion and collaboration. I am pleased with the progress we have made together on issues such as supporting families and children with disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, child intervention, poverty reduction, and income security.
“We agreed to a shared vision statement about poverty reduction and acknowledge we cannot meet the challenges we face in isolation. There is much we can learn from each other, from other government and community partners, and especially from people with lived experience. I look forward to continuing to work with provincial, territorial, and federal colleagues to ensure we meet the needs of Canadian families.”