2016 Theory of Change

 

Over the summer of 2016, the Halton Poverty Roundtable staff and members worked to develop our current theory of change.

We have evolved our focus to working for  livable incomes for all Halton residents. Our intended impact and a brief description of each of the key initiatives is below.

Intended Impact Statement: By 2026, all residents will have a livable income and, as a result, have access to opportunities, resources, and supports to thrive and to fully participate in an inclusive Halton community.

  1. Scale up Smart Start Halton, the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) awareness building campaign to increase take-up rates.

 

In 2013, HPRT began to engage key stakeholders to determine if there was appetite to build awareness of the Canada Learning Bond and to increase the take-up rates. The Canada Learning Bond is available to eligible families with children born since 2004 who were living at or below the Low Income Measure, for an education savings plan created by the federal government. The plan was explicitly intended to support savings toward a child’s post-secondary education cost, amounting to up to $2k per child. Rallying partners around this initiative was easy once stakeholders understood the very real opportunity we had to shift the trajectory of the almost 15,000 children who were eligible and not registered for the CLB. The Roundtable convened the Smart Start Halton working group, a partnership between a range of community stakeholders (community organizations, people with lived experience of poverty, federal, provincial and municipal governments, financial institutions, school boards, etc.), which led to community-wide promotion of the Bond. The key to increasing the take-up rate was two-fold; to work with those community service organizations that have the trust of eligible families – be it their faith group, their child care center, the food bank, the library, community hubs, OW/ODSP workers, elementary schools, municipal recreation centers, tax time volunteers, etc., and by making sign-up as easy as possible, which SmartSAVER facilitated immensely through the creation of an online sign-up portal.  SmartSAVER is a national campaign working to make it easier for families to understand and access the government money that is available for education after high school using a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).a facilitated by creating an online sign-up portal. Smart Start Halton partners conducted train the trainer sessions, community presentations, hosted booths at community events, and organized more than a dozen public sign-up events. As of September 2015, 39% of eligible children, or 10, 224 children in Halton have registered for the CLB. Smart Start Halton is currently working to scale up the action plan to ensure that a further 10,000 eligible children in Halton are registered for the Canada Learning Bond over the next three years.

2. Develop a local social procurement and community benefits program.

 

Building on a community forum the Halton Poverty Roundtable (HPRT) delivered in September 2015, that raised the idea of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) as a community wealth-building strategy, the HPRT saw an opportunity to raise Halton’s awareness about the meaning of Community Benefits Agreements, as well as Social Procurement Programs. Specifically, the opportunity they represent for job creation, capacity-building (training and apprenticeships), increased local economic activity, and a greater property, income, and sales tax base.

CBAs are negotiated agreements between a private or public development agent and a coalition of community-based groups. This coalition may include neighbourhood representatives, single-issue advocates, labour unions, social service agencies, religious congregations, faith-based groups and others. Together, they give a voice to people in infrastructure planning and land development processes – especially those individuals who have been historically excluded or marginalized from these processes and decisions that affect them. It has been explored and studied in Toronto and in various jurisdictions in the U.S and Scotland (Mowat Centre & Atkinson Foundation).

Social Procurement is the practice of using an organization’s regular process of buying goods and services to also achieve strategic social development goals (City of Toronto, 2013).

We believe that we can apply and benefit from current best practices to build broader awareness of these tools in a poverty reduction effort, and to develop a made in Halton Community Benefits Agreements framework and Social Procurement Program in Halton. More specifically, to explore ways in which significant public procurement projects are designed to incorporate terms requiring vendors to include apprenticeships, training, and other community benefits – most notably, guaranteed employment opportunities – to those living in poverty. The Halton Poverty Roundtable has received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to build the case around Community Benefits Agreements and Social Procurement Program in Halton.

To date, we have:

  • Engaged HPRT volunteer Ian Troop, past CEO of the 2015 Pan Am Games (a project that used community benefits agreements to provide procurement opportunities to diverse minority businesses in the GTA) to serve as the Chair of the Halton Social Procurement and Community Benefits Agreements Working Group
  • Convened 65 community stakeholders representing: community organizations, people with lived experience of poverty and/or marginalization, businesses, government, faith groups, employment organizations, funders, school boards, etc. in a community learning and consultation session to learn about social procurement and community benefits agreements from a panel of speakers who have experience in these areas.
  • Engaged 4 of 5 municipal governments in our area around the concept of Social Procurement and Community Benefits Agreements. We are now working with a Regional government champion to advance the buy-in for and development of internal social procurement policies and a community benefits framework.
  • Formed a working group to research best practices and to explore how to bring social procurement and community benefits agreements to life in Halton so that more of our public spend dollars directly benefit the Halton community economically and socially.
  • Participated in an Oakville Matters episode number 16, hosted by Oakville’s Mayor Burton focused on Community Benefits Agreements https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AdGw5Plat8&list=PLjveiXvD9pOehdSSUQPbV-VlG3I5xiElp&index=2HPRT’s intention is to create a broad coalition of governments, community organizations, equity seeking groups, people with lived experience of poverty, developers, key anchor institutions (educational institutions, hospitals, etc.) and labour who could support the idea of community benefits agreements and social procurement programs being implemented as policy across Halton, and incorporated into future infrastructure capital builds and procurement processes

3.Scale alternative High School education programs for disengaged youth at risk for living in low income.

 

The Halton Sport Leadership Program (HSLP) was formed in 2013 when the Halton Poverty Roundtable convened community stakeholders to explore the duplication of a successful Toronto initiative in Halton designed to engage at risk youth between the ages of 15-18 who were on the verge of disengaging from the school system. This new pilot program is intended to “turn the curve” for youth by providing them with leadership and team-development training, a number of recreation a focused certifications, and employment training. The goal is to inspire young people to make the personal changes needed to thrive, to develop confidence and to give back to their communities through meaningful employment.

The HSLP went on to become a collaborative partnership between, the Halton Catholic District School Board, the Halton District School Board, the Town of Milton, the Town of Oakville, and the YMCA of Oakville, with the Halton Poverty Roundtable serving as the backbone support organization. The pilot program launched in January 2015, in Oakville, with three high schools and 19 students participating. The second year achieved completion this past May.

The working group’s focus of the next year (2017) is to expand the program in Oakville to three more high schools and to pilot the project in the Milton, Burlington, and Halton Hills.

4. Build awareness of and advocate for a Guaranteed Annual Income and a Living Wage.

 

BIG Push Halton

In May 2013, staff at the Halton Poverty Roundtable participated in a week-long international conference hosted by the Basic Income Network of Canada held in Toronto, which facilitated dialogue and engagement around basic income initiatives, research and best practices from across the globe. Presenters included Dennis Raphael, key Social Determinants of Health Researcher and Advocate, Evelyn Forget, best known for her research into the groundbreaking Canadian basic income experiment in Manitoba in 1974 known as the Mincome experiment, and Richard Wilkinson, a British social epidemiologist, and author of The Spirit Level, published in 2009, which argues that societies with more equal distribution of incomes have better health, fewer social problems such as violence, drug abuse, teenage births, mental illness, obesity, and others, and are more cohesive than ones in which the gap between the rich and poor is greater. The Halton Poverty Roundtable has been a member of the BIG Push Campaign since 2013 and, in 2015, agreed to take on the local awareness-building and advocacy campaign, titled, BIG Push Halton, to raise public awareness of basic income, build public support for an expanded system of basic income in Canada, and secure commitments for and delivery of an expanded system of basic income in Canada. The Halton Poverty Roundtable is currently in the process of convening community stakeholders for the purpose of forming a working group and to build on the national action plan to develop a local response and plan.

Living Wage Halton

A living wage is the hourly rate that allows working people to have a decent quality of life. Calculated for a family of four with both parents working full time (37.5 hours per week), it provides enough income to cover basic expenses like housing, food, clothing, utility bills and transportation, plus a modest amount for health insurance (prescription drugs and dental care), recreation and entertainment.

“No one who works full time should have to live in poverty.” This statement several years ago by U.S. President Barack Obama, echoing similar statements by many other people, underlies the call to employers to pay their employees a living wage.

The living wage in Halton was calculated using a custom spreadsheet developed and made available by Hugh Mackenzie in conjunction with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as part of a growing collaboration across Canada. Calculations were made for three different household types: a single person, a family of two (parent and child) and a family of four (two parents and two children). Each household type has unique expenditures, subsidy eligibility and so forth. Based on this, as of March 2013, Community Development Halton calculated Halton’s living wage as the following: $19.45 for a single individual, $18.69 for a lone parent, and $17.05 for a family of four.

The unique characteristics of Halton region that affect the affordability of living were considered. For example, although limited public transportation is available in Oakville, Burlington and Milton, it is not a viable means of transportation for employment. A car is necessary and for that reason, it is included in the calculation for Halton’s living wage. A car is not included in the living wage calculation of municipalities with fully developed public transportation services. The Halton Living Wage working group is a close collaboration between Community Development Halton, the Halton Poverty Roundtable, and Poverty Free Halton.   The goal is to build awareness of the benefits of living wage and to educate businesses on the benefits of becoming living wage employer such that they are motivated to work towards paying employees a living wage. The Living Wage Halton working group is currently developing its 2017 action plan, and as a part of that plan, is planning a community education session to educate Halton citizens about the concepts and benefits of Living Wage, a Guaranteed Annual Income, and other wage-based poverty elimination and wealth building strategies.

 

2017 Theory of Change_Simple