Episode 18: Looking Beneath the Surface of Poverty in YYC

10 May 2023

In this episode, Jaclyn Silbernagel chats with Meaghon Reid, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, about the state of poverty in Calgary, VCC’s Beneath the Surface report, and what individuals can do in their spheres of influence to affect poverty reduction and build community wellbeing.

Published 10 May 2023

Updated 10 May 2023

This episode of Let's Talk Poverty discusses why looking beneath the metrics of poverty is important, where Calgary stands with community wellbeing, what individuals can do to influence systems change, loneliness and its relation to poverty, and questions we should consider when talking about social disorder.  

In this episode 

  • Learn more about VCC’s Beneath The Surface report, which looks at these multifaceted layers that help us measure what matters and uncover solutions that will chart a better path forward. 
  • We need to look at sharing data to affect systems change, as key players in poverty reduction often only have a small insight into their part of the system.  
  • Transit safety is a big concern in Calgary currently. What questions should we be asking when it comes to social disorder?  

Three key takeaways 

  • There are many layers of poverty and when we look below the surface we are often surprised at various intersections where things like affordable housing, food security, loneliness, and a sense of belonging collide. 
  • We need to be more diligent about defining the problems before we design solutions. Data allows us to figure out whether we are targeting the right policy solutions. Shared measurement and access to more data can help paint a better picture which can lead to better solutions when it comes to poverty reduction.  
  • We’re not a safe community unless we’re all safe. There tends to be a conflation between poverty, crime and mental illness and the lack of understanding of the problems and adequate solutions can lead to criminalization of poverty in policy.  

About Meaghon Reid 

Meaghon Reid started as the Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary in September of 2019, bringing a diverse range of experience in organizational leadership, advocacy, collective impact initiatives and policy change. Prior to working at VCC, Meaghon was the Executive Director of the Brenda Strafford Centre, where she experienced first-hand how the critical work being undertaken under the Enough for All Strategy has positively impacted the lives of people experiencing poverty. Before moving to Calgary, Meaghon was the Associate Vice President at the National Council for Behavioral Health in Washington, DC. Meaghon also worked as the Director of the Mental Health First Aid program at the Mental Health Commission in Ottawa, Ontario where she went after several years of working in international development at VSO International. Meaghon is a proud graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland where she studied economics and political science. 

About Vibrant Communities Calgary 

Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC) advocates for long-term strategies that address the root causes of poverty in Calgary. VCC engages the community using a collective impact approach to poverty reduction and is the steward of Calgary's community-owned poverty reduction strategy, Enough for All. VCC actively guides the implementation of the strategy through advocacy and policy, and by working with community members, organizations and Enough for All Champions. 


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