Title:2010 report card on child & family poverty in Ontario: Poverty reduction : key to economic recovery for Ontario families.
Corporate Author: Family Service Toronto
Subject:Poverty – child poverty
Publisher:Family Service Toronto
Place of Publication:Toronto
Date of Publication:2010
In 2007 Ontario Campaign 2000 and other anti poverty organizations called on all political parties in the provincial election to commit to developing a Poverty Reduction Strategy for Ontario with targets and timelines. The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction was formed, urging the re-elected Liberal government to adopt the goal of cutting poverty rates by 25% within five years. This advocacy was successful and public consultations were held across Ontario in 2008 seeking input into the strategy. By year end the worst recession since the Great Depression had hit Canada. In December 2008 the Ontario government fulfilled their election promise and announced a Poverty Reduction Strategy with the goal of reducing the child poverty rate by 25% by 2013, becoming the third Canadian province with a plan and the first with specific targets for poverty reduction. In May 2009 all parties in the Ontario Legislature approved passage of the Poverty Reduction Act, which requires the Province to set a new poverty reduction target and action plan every five years based on public consultation. Despite tight fiscal times the 2009 and 2010 provincial budgets included a number of measures that have benefited low income families, including increases to the minimum wage and the Ontario Child Benefit, stimulus spending on affordable housing, funding to save child care subsidies, and implementation of full day kindergarten for 4 and 5 year olds. But the poorest 6.5% of Ontario’s population, those who receive social assistance, have seen no increase in welfare benefits in real dollars. In terms of purchasing power, benefits are as low now as in 1967. Poverty figures from Statistics Canada are always two years out of date. They indicate that in 2008, 1.6 million or 12.5% of people in Ontario lived in poverty (Low Income Measure After-Tax). The child poverty rate was 15.2%. Because of the recession these rates will be higher in 2010. It is too early to determine the impact of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, but there would be even more families struggling to make ends meet and falling into poverty without the steps taken to date by the Ontario government. Clearly there is much more work to be done. The recession and weak social safety nets have aggravated our poverty problem. As we approach the 2011 provincial election Ontario Campaign 2000 partners will be reminding all political parties of their support for the Poverty Reduction Act and urging them to commit to making the investments and policy changes needed to end poverty in our province.