More than 500 people came to Queen’s Park for the day on Monday, April 14 for the release of the 25 in 5 Network‘s Founding Declaration on a poverty reduction plan for Ontario (find the Declaration at 25 in 5 Network web site). The morning highlighted the stories of people whose life experience living on low income and without adequate supports properly framed the issues that a serious poverty reduction plan must address in Ontario.
Deb Matthews, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, attended the morning session and listened intently to the stories presented. Addressing the assembly about her mandate to develop a poverty reduction strategy by the end of the year, the Minister gave her assurance that “we are very, very serious about developing a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.” Stating that the community consultation process will commence in the coming weeks, the Minister indicated that she is being guided by several “foundational principles” in starting a conversation with the community on poverty reduction. These foundational principles are:
- OPPORTUNITY — the poverty reduction strategy should create the chance for the full engagement in the community of people on low incomes.
- PERSON-CENTRED STRATEGIES — there are multiple and diverse experiences among those living in poverty (single parents, persons with disabilities, new immigrants, seniors, etc.) and the strategy should understand the different conditions that bring diverse groups into poverty and the different strategies required to help them get out of poverty.
- EVERYONE MUST PLAY A ROLE — all levels of government, the community and even business must be part of the solution to poverty.
- GET SMARTER ABOUT OUR SPENDING — we must get serious about evaluating the outcomes of what we are currently doing and where the money goes now and fund those programs that work and get results.
Poverty Watch Ontario invites comment here on the Minister’s foundational principles in light of the 25 in 5 declaration and the Policy Framework that SPNO has been taking for discussion into communities since February.
In an afternoon workshop conducted by the SPNO on cross-community collaboration on poverty reduction, many expressed concern about what shape the Minister’s consultation will take. How many parts of the province will be visited? How open and flexible will the consultation format be to allow participation and input? Since these concerns were was also raised in the plenary sessions at the 25 in 5 forum both in the morning and the afternoon, and since the Minister has not yet finalized the consultation process and plan, Poverty Watch Ontario has set up a separate page on this site to invite your suggestions and advice for how an inclusive and full consultation could be conducted.