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Liberals promising more money to fight poverty

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OTTAWA—The federal Liberals are promising more money to more cities through their cornerstone homelessness strategy—pledging $1.25 billion over the next nine years to cities looking to tackle poverty.

Social Development minister Jean-Yves Duclos also said yesterday that there will be dedicated funding for the territories of $43 million over the same period.

The changes being unveiled give some high-level details that anti-poverty activists and cities have been waiting for since the Liberals promised in June to revamp the strategy, known as “Reaching Home.”

The Liberals took a long look at the homeless program after hearing complaints from cities about cumbersome reporting requirements, inadequate funding, and unrealistic expectations about how quickly the money should be spent.

The money should help up to six large cities qualify for regular federal funding, the government says.

There also will be new spending targeting indigenous peoples—a group over-represented in shelters compared to their percentage of the general population—but how much will be spent remains unclear.

The Liberals say they are working with national indigenous groups on how to allocate new spending.

Details of the “Reaching Home” plan were being laid out on the same day the Liberals were set to introduce legislation to enshrine into law a plan to lift more than two million people out of poverty.

The government notified MPs before the weekend that it planned to introduce anti-poverty legislation as early as today that will set an official poverty line for the country for the first time.

Poverty-reduction targets already appear in the Liberals' latest budget-implementation bill, styled as the first phase of a full poverty-reduction law.

The government's strategy sets reduction targets of 20 percent from 2015 levels by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030.

The law, once introduced, also will create a council on poverty to advise the minister and require annual reports to Parliament on the government's progress.

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