Many individuals in poverty have experienced how systemic, policy, and government practices can improve or hinder their efforts to exit poverty. Policy can have countless direct and indirect effects on diverse individuals in poverty and on how poverty is defined and addressed.
The definition of poverty in policy is integral to poverty reduction as it determines who is considered poor and able to access certain supports and subsidies. This can exclude vulnerable individuals from supports because they do not fit program and policy requirements.
Policy also effects the economy, employment, and income gap. Economic down turns, as seen recently, can significantly impact employment, leaving many without work and struggling to pay for basic needs. Policy also effects diverse individuals in poverty differently, benefiting some groups and hindering others. The history of Indigenous policy, for example, has had detrimental effects on indigenous poverty rates and continues to be a complex issue today. With the large percentage of immigrants in poverty, policies on immigration, citizenship, and international education also effect immigrant accessibility to employment, contributing to an over-representation of low-income immigrants.
In this way, while policy has made many steps to better support the low-income population, the realization that policy can directly and indirectly effect poverty and at-risk populations, makes it necessary to address systemic issues and shape policy to be an active force for decreasing poverty in Canada.