In 2017, anti-poverty activist Bee Lee Soh and Metcalf Fellow John Stapleton were selected, from among 400 nominations, to participate on the federal government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Poverty. The committee provided input and helped inform Canada’s first-ever National Poverty Reduction Strategy. Soh and Stapleton were the only two individuals from Toronto, among the 17-member advisory committee.
Despite the best of intentions to create an inclusive process, Soh faced many challenges to participation. In Voice of Experience: Engaging People with Lived Experience of Poverty in Consultations, she provides a first-hand reflection on how she navigated a host of assumptions regarding her access to technology and financial credit. She also shares some of the contributions she was able to make.
Stapleton and Soh identify barriers and impediments to participation, and suggest ways in which government entities can address these barriers to ensure successful inclusion of people with lived experience of poverty in policy consultations.
As we continue to realize the extraordinary value of engaging those with lived experiences, there is a continuing need to reflect on processes and identify ways to support people living in poverty who are invited to policy tables. For those who are leading consultative regimens, this paper will be a useful and practical reference for addressing the resources and remunerations needed to meaningfully engage those with lived experiences of poverty.