FREDERICTON (GNB) – Around the world, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is being observed today, Oct. 17.

This year's theme is Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty.

As part of this event initiated by the United Nations, the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation and its 12 community inclusion networks are asking New Brunswickers to take a few moments to consider the many forms of poverty in our province, such as homelessness, hunger, unemployment and difficulty in accessing transportation to medical or educational services.

"Through its innovative plan to reduce poverty and foster economic and social inclusion, New Brunswick has developed sustainable ways to rally governments, the business and community sectors, and residents around a social project that helps our people live healthy lives with dignity and security," said Healthy and Inclusive Communities Minister Dorothy Shephard. "I encourage everyone to reflect on solutions leading to the eradication of poverty in order to rebuild New Brunswick together."

The day is being marked as the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation is putting the finishing touches on the first phase of the renewal process of the Overcoming Poverty Together: the New Brunswick Poverty Reduction Plan.

More than 700 people, including representatives of the business, non-profit, and government sectors, participated in 12 public dialogue sessions and two regional meetings with interest groups, which were held in the province between Sept. 16 and Oct. 9. About 3,000 comments, ideas, and suggestions were generated during these meetings.

"All these people came to invest and engage in a unique approach and they showed a willingness to give this matter some thought and come up with tangible solutions to the problem of poverty in the province," said Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation president Léo-Paul Pinet. "In all, this first step alone represents more than 2,100 hours of volunteer work and idea exchange. Each sector is invited to do the same and to take its place."

Residents and groups who have not had the opportunity to submit their ideas may do so online or by organizing a mini-dialogue within their organization or community. Details can be found on the corporation's website, and the deadline is Oct. 25.

The ideas and comments gathered through the public engagement process will be used to develop a draft of the second poverty reduction plan, which will then be submitted to the corporation's board of directors. Additionally, a summary of all of the comments collected during these meetings will be published this autumn.

The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation is a Crown corporation that co-ordinates and implements the Overcoming Poverty Together strategy. The corporation's board of directors has 22 members representing government, business, non-profit community organizations, and people who have experienced poverty.