TORONTO, ON (December 5, 2011) – Ontario must redouble its efforts in order to meet its commitment to reduce child poverty by 25% by 2013, says a new report by the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.
Common Ground: A Strategy for Moving Forward on Poverty Reduction, tracks the government’s progress at the third anniversary of the Province’s poverty reduction promise. The report shows that while some progress has been made, it’s critical that all three parties work together to lift 90,000 Ontario children out of poverty by 2013. The report also identifies ten areas of common ground that emerged across parties during the 2011 election campaign, and urges government to work with the opposition parties to take action on these commitments right away.
“The commitment to poverty reduction expressed across party lines during the election campaign shows that there is common political will to take action here,” said Greg DeGroot-Maggetti of the Mennonite Central Committee. “A minority parliament must not be seen as an impediment to taking bold action to tackle poverty in this province.”
The 25 in 5 report finds that since 2008, a combination of good policies and government investment have had a positive impact – child poverty in Ontario has dropped slightly, as compared with significant increases in child poverty in provinces where no action was taken. By contrast, adult poverty rates continued to climb in the absence of strong government commitments. More can and must be done.
“Given the slow recovery from the recession and growing income inequality, now is not the time for the provincial government to sit on its laurels,” said Mike Creek, of Voices From the Street and chair of 25 in 5. “Targeted action is urgently needed, including expanding poverty reduction targets to include adults – especially singles – and addressing equity for groups more at risk of poverty, particularly at this time of fiscal restraint.”
“If the province reins in spending while seeking to protect healthcare and education, the health and social costs of doing nothing to tackle poverty will be too great to ignore,” said Jennefer Laidley of the Income Security Advocacy Centre. “If we don’t make investments to reduce poverty now, inequality will continue to grow, health care costs will continue to rise, and people in particular groups and communities will continue to be left behind.”
25 in 5 urges the provincial government to act, particularly where there is common ground across provincial parties. This includes introducing a new housing benefit, reforming social assistance, reducing earned income deductions for people on social assistance, raising the Ontario Child Benefit, taking action on minimum wage, and making the early learning vision a reality.
See coverage of the report in the Toronto Star at: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1096936–child-poverty-easing-in-ontario-report-says