Niagara Poverty Reduction Strategy

Our 2024-2028 strategy

Working together to prevent and end poverty, and increase well-being in Niagara

Niagara Poverty Reduction Strategy

Poverty is unique to each person, complex with no single solution and a human rights issue. The Niagara Poverty Reduction Strategy:

  • Reflects concerns, opportunities and actions identified by residents
  • Highlights best practice
  • Leverages local knowledge to inform future action and improve local collaboration

See strategy at a glance.


The community spoke. We listened. Together, we developed a strategy.

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Strategy is driven by diverse perspectives and experiences, shaped by people who are affected by poverty and often underrepresented in research. The recommendations in the strategy are supported by research.

How we got here

  • Niagara Region Council approves development of a local poverty reduction strategy
  • More than 1000 residents give input about an ideal future state, challenges, strengths and actions
  • More than 200 Indigenous people give input about Indigenous prosperity
  • Staff review research to identify best practice to address poverty
  • Staff draft recommendations based on community input and best practice
  • Staff engage with local area municipalities
  • More than 100 content experts validate recommendations
  • Niagara Region staff indicate alignment with other Niagara Region plans
  • Steering Committee prioritize recommendations based on impact, effort and community support

See input provided by residents.


Join us on this journey and share your commitment to change. For information on how to get involved or offer your skills, contact:

Marc Todd
Manager, Community Services
905-734-7975 ext. 6548
Email Marc Todd

Lisa Gallant
Poverty Reduction Strategy Advisor
905-734-7975 ext. 7321
Email Lisa Gallant

Next Steps

March - September 2024: Meet with interested and affected parties to discuss their roles in ending poverty. This includes:

  • People with lived expertise
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Other residents
  • Government representatives, funders and businesses
  • Health care and educational institutions
  • Non-profits, service clubs and associations

September - October 2024: Release call for applications to Niagara Prosperity Initiative.

February 2025: Start Niagara Prosperity Initiative funded projects (pending council budget approval).

Ongoing: Increase local capacity to implement community work, policies and practices and measure success.

Areas of focus

The community identified eight areas of focus to address poverty in Niagara.

  • Indigenous well-being


    Indigenous community to develop a strategy for Indigenous specific poverty reduction initiatives.


    • Work with Indigenous community leaders to develop a strategy driven by a community process

    Achieving prosperity for Indigenous peoples in Niagara requires deep understanding of Indigenous history and culture. This includes the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of the individual, family and both human and non-human communities.

    Creating culturally safe environments is essential for Indigenous peoples to engage with and build relationships with municipal governments. Niagara Region acknowledges that colonialism and past actions and inactions of all levels of government have led to discriminatory policies and practices against Indigenous peoples. This has had devastating effects on the health and well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

    We need to move beyond acknowledgment and take actions to change this. All levels of government in Canada, including municipal, have a significant role to play. Each shares responsibility in eradicating anti-Indigenous racism and discrimination and fostering equity and respect for all.

  • Housing


    Provide housing stability services for people living in poverty to maintain their current housing, prevent eviction and improve social inclusion. Help individuals access income through periods of financial instability.


    • Improve relationships between tenants and property owners to reduce evictions
    • Expand the use of quick reconnects of financial and other supports for people who have previously been homeless
    • Increase legal supports for people in low-income households
    • Increase early identification of housing related risk
    • Address needs of those escaping gender-based violence
  • Income


    Increase opportunities for living wage employment in Niagara. Advocate for adequate, liveable rates from government income assistance programs.


    • Increase awareness, support and adoption of the living wage in Niagara as a poverty reduction effort
    • Advocate to federal and provincial governments to:
      • Develop and implement a universal basic income
      • Increase government programs that provide income and benefits. Examples include Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, Canadian Pension Plan and Old Age Security.
      • Improve access and eligibility for people living in poverty to access health benefits such as dental services, drug benefits and eyeglasses
  • Employment


    Promote and develop decent work opportunities that provide fair wages and benefits. Foster stable, consistent and safe employment.


    • Increase vocational training for those living in poverty to qualify for stable employment opportunities in local industries
    • Increase internships and apprenticeship opportunities for foreign-trained newcomers to work while obtaining Canadian credentials
    • Explore a social procurement policy for Niagara Region that increases opportunities for small businesses and equity-seeking groups
  • Food security


    Improve access to fresh, culturally appropriate, affordable and nutritious foods through income-based solutions to food insecurity.


    • Advocate to federal and provincial governments to use evidence-based policies to reduce food insecurity
    • Pilot interventions that reduce barriers to food access in priority neighbourhoods
    • Continue to monitor and report the extent and severity of food insecurity and effective interventions. This will help build awareness and knowledge about the problem and support for actions.
  • Early child development


    Improve access to affordable, high-quality child care for families living in poverty or at risk of poverty.


    • Continue to implement the Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care program in Niagara. This includes reducing the cost of child care to an average of $10 per day by 2026.
    • Continue to develop and put in place an Early Childhood Educator Workforce Strategy in children's services. This will help to expand the system and increase child care spaces.
  • Transportation


    Continue the work of Niagara Region Transit to achieve affordable and equitable access to services in the cities / towns in Niagara.


    • Provide concession fare products for people who are living in poverty
    • Improve access to transit and active transportation
    • Increase hours of service to make evening, weekend and holiday transportation hours more consistent across all service levels
  • Mental health and addiction


    Enhance core service capacity. Offer a choice of timely, early recovery interventions and treatments for people who are living in poverty or at risk of poverty.


    • Address gaps and improve coordination of local mental health and addiction services
    • Keep promoting the wellness and safety of people experiencing issues with substance use and addiction

How to create change

Within each area of focus, residents identified six conditions as essential to end and prevent poverty.

  • Service access, coordination and capacity

    A person's ability to access services can impact their experience of poverty. Examples of how this condition of change can enhance service:

    • Increase opportunities for people to access multiple services at the same time and place
    • Strengthen supports for those escaping gender-based violence
    • Strengthen transition supports such as discharge planning for people leaving hospitals and the justice system
    • Build capacity to identify children at risk of poverty or living in poverty. Strengthen referral pathways for families to a network of services such as income, housing, parenting and mental health supports.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

    Public and private sectors can include diversity, equity and inclusion into program design and delivery as it relates to ending and preventing poverty. This can mean increasing learning opportunities for staff, elected officials, agencies and community members to make services more equitable.

  • Leveraging voices of lived expertise

    Creating opportunities for people with lived expertise to provide input in policy development, planning and decision-making is crucial to addressing poverty. This can include expanding opportunities to add peer support models into existing community work.

  • Changing mindsets

    Changing mindsets aims to unite people in understanding poverty and how they can help lift others out of it. Poverty is discriminatory in nature. Addressing false beliefs that feed into negative stereotypes is key to reducing poverty. By changing mindsets that contribute to the stigma of poverty, we can lessen discrimination and improve community bonds. This will help reduce isolation and loneliness.

  • Advocacy

    Advocacy to federal and provincial governments for improvements to income, employment and food security such as:

    • Implementing a universal basic income
    • Increasing social assistance rates and benefits
    • Increasing minimum wage to a living wage
    • Making accreditation processes easier and more affordable to help newcomers with employment
    • Implementing evidence-based policy solutions to reduce food insecurity
  • Funding

    Adequate funding for programs that focus on achieving results using the best methods is crucial for any plan to reduce poverty. Addressing funding gaps and methods of funding applies to all levels of government and all funding bodies.

Aligned reports

The Niagara Poverty Reduction Strategy meets the recommendations outlined in the Connecting the Pieces: An Evaluation of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative report by Brock University.

The strategy aligns with:

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