Viewpoint: Winning the War on Poverty

Monday, April 8, 2019

By David Brooks

Jesus said the poor will always be among us, but there are a lot of people in Canada testing that proposition.

According to recently released data, between 2015 and 2017, Canada reduced its official poverty rate by at least 20 percent. Roughly 825,000 Canadians were lifted out of poverty in those years, giving the country today its lowest poverty rate in history.

How did it do it?

The overall economy has been decent but not robust enough to explain these striking outcomes. Instead, one major factor is that Canadians have organized their communities differently. They adopted a specific methodology to fight poverty.

Before I describe this methodology, let’s pause to think about what it’s often like in American poor areas. Everything is fragmented. There are usually a bevy of public and private programs doing their own thing. In a town there may be four food pantries, which don’t really know one another well. The people working in these programs have their heads down, because it’s exhausting enough just to do their own work.

Photo courtesy of Samuel Auguste.

Source: New York Times (link opens in a new window)

poverty alleviation, public-private partnerships