Media Release – Poverty Plan Needs Real Backbone, Ontarians Say

TORONTO, September 8 – If Ontario is going to seriously tackle poverty it must invest in a comprehensive multi-year plan, not just a set of quick fixes. That’s the message that government MPPs heard in more than 50 community consultations on poverty reduction over the summer, according to a new report by the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.

In an open letter to Dalton McGuinty, the 25 in 5 Network is urging the Premier and his caucus to make poverty reduction a priority in the fall session and deliver a substantive anti-poverty plan by the end of the year. The open letter also calls on the Premier to put pressure at the federal level to ensure that the next federal government invests in provincial poverty reduction strategies.

“Ontarians have spoken loud and clear: minor tweaks to programs won’t cut it when it comes to serious change against poverty. It’s time for a bold, multi-year plan that invests significant dollars to cut poverty by 25% in 5 years and by 50% in the next decade,” said Mehroon Kassam, a member of the Social Planning Network of Ontario, a partner in the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.

“Our economy has been growing for over 10 years, yet Ontario’s poverty rate remains stubbornly high at 10%. If there’s a downturn coming, it’s more important than ever for governments to invest in poverty reduction now when it can make a real difference for people facing difficult times ahead,” said Jacquie Maund, of Ontario Campaign 2000, a 25 in 5 member organization.

Partners in the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction have participated in 50 meetings across the province between May and August to provide community input to Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

“Thousands of people have come out to community meetings to let our politicians know what’s needed to end poverty in our province. We’ve been listening, and we expect government to act on the recommendations, especially those made by low-income people,” said Michael Creek, of Voices From the Street and 25 in 5.

Partners tracked all the consultations in a consolidated report, available at www.povertywatchontario.ca. Recommendations from across the province include:

  • Develop a strategy that seeks to end poverty for all people, not just children and families;
  • Set targets of 25% reduction in poverty over 5 years, and indicators to track progress;
  • Include a Good Jobs Strategy with increased minimum wage, access to unionization, health benefits for all, and stronger labour laws that protect contract and temporary workers;
  • Target measures to address the increased poverty faced by Aboriginal people, racialized communities, newcomers, single mothers, and people with disabilities;
  • Reform social assistance so people who can’t work full time have adequate incomes to meet the cost of living, and the supports they need;
  • Invest in community supports such as affordable housing, early learning and child care spaces, education and training, and public transit.

The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction will continue to monitor the government’s commitment on poverty reduction. A series of public events are scheduled around October 17 (the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty) to continue to build momentum for a strong Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Summary Report: Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy Consultations (March-August 2008)

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The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction is a province-wide Ontario coalition of over 100 organizations and individuals calling for a 25 per cent reduction in poverty in Ontario in five years. For more information see: www.25in5.ca

Media contacts:
Jennefer Laidley, Income Security Advocacy Centre, (416) 597-5820 x5150. Cell 416-523-5228
Peter Clutterbuck, Social Planning Network of Ontario (416) 653-7947 Cell 416-738-3228

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