Countdown to a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS)
Time to Deliver a 25 in 5 Poverty Reduction Strategy
- Quote of the week: Canada Needs Ontario’s Courage on Poverty Reduction, says Roy Romanow
- 25 in 5’s Five Tests to assess Ontario’s upcoming Poverty Reduction Strategy
- Poverty Reduction is smart economics, especially in hard times
- “Leadership in Hard Times” tour: 16 stops around Ontario and counting
- Child poverty soaring in GTA, says new report
- TAKE ACTION: New Pre-budget dates announced… Dec 5 deadline to sign up
- More than 1,400 endorse 25 in 5 Declaration for Poverty Reduction
Quote of the week
“Premier McGuinty has boldly pledged to make poverty reduction a priority and to bring down a comprehensive plan this week. The fact that the Premier has remained committed to this timeline even in this toughest of economic times is encouraging. It is vital that provinces like Ontario that have shown leadership avoid the cold feet syndrome in these times of uncertainty. The rest of Canada needs this display of strategic courage.”
Who said it? Roy Romanow, former Premier of Saskatchewan and Commissioner on the Future of Health Care in Canada, and currently Chair of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Network Board.
Five Tests for Success
At its October 27th General Assembly in Toronto, the 25 in 5 Network unveiled its “Five Tests for Success” which will be used to assess the strength of the province’s much anticipated Poverty Reduction Strategy.
The five tests are:
TEST #1: A 25 in 5 TARGET
- Setting a 25 in 5 target would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to set a specific target for reducing poverty.
- A 25% reduction would mean reducing child poverty from 12% to 9%, lifting 80,000 kids out of poverty. It would mean reducing the number of all poor Ontarians from 10% to 7.5%, lifting 323,000 Ontarians out of poverty.
TEST #2: A SOLID MEASURING STICK
- Statistics Canada produces a number of reliable measuring sticks annually that would fit the bill: from the Low Income Measure (the major international standard for poverty measurement), to the Low Income Cut-off and the Market Basket Measure.
- Ontario also needs to track progress in key policy areas that ultimately drive success in reducing poverty: whether work is sustaining families; how income security programs are preventing poverty; whether affordable housing, early learning and child care, and public education are meeting the needs of Ontarians; how populations-specific groups are doing (newcomers and racialized communities, lone mothers, aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities).
TEST #3: POLICY SPECIFICS
Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy should outline specific policy commitments in each of the three priority areas outlined in the 25 in 5 Declaration:
- Sustaining employment means assuring a living standard above poverty for any adult who works full time throughout the year. It means fair pay and stable working conditions for all Ontarians.
- Livable incomes mean dignity for all Ontarians – including those unable to work.
- Strong and supportive communities mean affordable housing, early learning and child care, public education and community programs that help people connect.
TEST #4: LEGISLATION AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO KEEP THE PLAN ON TRACK
- Legislation that invites all parties to support Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy.
- Ongoing Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction and a new Poverty Reduction Secretariat
- Annual public reporting on progress.
- A new Citizen’s Advisory Committee that includes people living in low income.
- Ongoing public consultation as the plan unfolds.
TEST #5: A DOWNPAYMENT IN 2009 BUDGET
- Ontario must commit to introducing specific first-steps measures and investments to build momentum for the strategy in the 2009 spring budget.
Read more about 25in 5’s 5 Tests For Success of Ontario Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy
Poverty Reduction is Smart Economics, Especially in Hard Times
The evidence is mounting that investing in infrastructure such as affordable housing and early learning and child care, along with strengthening the incomes of vulnerable families and adults, will reduce poverty while at the same time stimulating demand in local economies across Ontario.
- The forgotten fundamentals: how strong social programs can play a vital part in an economic stimulus package, Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson, Caledon Institute, December 1
- Poverty reduction is the right way to stimulate and key to addressing economic crisis, writes Toronto Star Columnist Tom Walkom
- Governments can use crisis to repair and rebuild infrastructure while fighting poverty, says economist Armine Yalnizyan, Toronto Star, Nov 17
- Poverty costs Ontario billions per year, reveals new study. A landmark study by Ontario’s food banks reveals that poverty has a price tag of up to $13 billion per year in lost revenues for federal and provincial governments.
- Ontarians waiting for leadership on poverty reduction, says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives poll
- Public investment in affordable housing delivers powerful benefits, Michael Shapcott, Wellesley Institute
- Economic crisis no excuse to abandon anti-poverty fight, Opinion article by economists Arthur Donner, Mike McCracken and Armine Yalnizyan in Toronto Star, October 21
Leadership in Hard Times: 25 in 5 Touches Down in 16 Cities
The 25 in 5 Network has already touched down in 16 cities as part of a 25-stop provincial tour to promote a Blueprint that can make Ontario a leader in poverty reduction.
The six-week “Leadership in Hard Times: 25 in 5’s Tour to Promote Poverty Reduction” discusses the coalition’s consultation document, A Blueprint for Poverty Reduction: Leadership in Hard Times. It argues that action on a poverty reduction plan is especially necessary in tough economic times, and identifies the various policy tools that are at Ontario’s disposal to tackle poverty.
More than 300 participants attended 25 in 5 events last week in Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Niagara, Woodstock, Kitchener, Woodstock, Cambridge and Halton.
Go to www.povertywatchontario.ca for more information, pictures and links.
And check out upcoming December dates in Kingston, Durham, Windsor, London, Ottawa, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Peterborough and Simcoe County.
Selected Media Coverage:
- Community support needed to aid in elimination of poverty, Oxford Sentinel Review (Nov 27)
- Poverty groups form coalition to tackle largely hidden local problem, Owen Sound Sun Times (Nov 27)
- Poverty is Corrosive: Ontario is child poverty center of Canada, Welland Tribune (Nov 27)
- Invest in people to eradicate poverty, Hamilton Spectator (Nov 25)
- A blueprint to tackling poverty comes to North Durham, Kawartha Media Group (Nov 25)
Child Poverty Soaring in GTA, says new report
“This report highlights the changing face of child poverty,” said David Rivard, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. “It’s no longer just the inner core of the city – it’s moving out to the suburbs as well.”
The report, entitled “Greater Trouble in Greater Toronto: Child Poverty in the GTA,” is the first comprehensive look at child poverty rates in the 905 area since 1991, and comes days before the province is to release its first-ever poverty reduction strategy.
“Poverty is so entrenched in the city (Toronto), that it tends to eclipse what’s going on elsewhere,” said Colin Hughes, a Toronto CAS community development worker and author of the report. “The community really needs to know it’s a big problem elsewhere, too. Even though child poverty is not as big numerically (in the 905), the degree of change between 1990-2005 is alarming.”
Hughes says the data highlight the effect of urbanization on poverty. Often, low-income people tend to settle in larger communities, where they expect there will be more services, more rental housing and more jobs, he said. As the communities grow, so does poverty.
Three Ways to Make a Difference
1. Sign Up and Speak Up for Poverty Reduction at Pre-Budget Consultations
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, a.k.a. the “pre-budget committee”
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (a.k.a. the pre-budget committee) is the all-party committee that consults Ontarians annually on budget priorities – it is critical that this committee hears the 25 in 5 message: Ontario needs a downpayment on poverty reduction in the 2009 budget. That means new dollars for programs that will make a tangible difference in people’s lives.
The Committee recently announced that it intends to hold public hearings in Niagara Falls, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Ottawa during the week of December 15, 2008.
All interested people who wish to be considered to make an oral presentation should contact the Clerk of the Committee by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 5, 2008. Those who do not wish to make an oral presentation but who are interested in commenting on the issue may send a written submission to the Clerk of the Committee at the address below by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 16, 2009.
Clerk: William Short
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan Consultations
Ontario’s Finance Minister has launched a round of cross-provincial consultations to inform the 2009 spring budget. Dates available now in Sudbury and Sault St. Marie – Dec 12. We need partners to commit to sign up and speak up for poverty reduction before the Finance Minister.
2. Speak up for poverty reduction and why our Economy Needs a Poverty Reduction Strategy Now
As Ontario edges closer to the announcement of a Poverty Reduction Plan, it is more important than ever that we all speak up for poverty reduction. From every voicemail, phone call, letter and email to our local MPP, to a passionate plea at our community center for signing the 25 in 5 Declaration, to that letter we have always wanted to write to our local newspaper… NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD!
3. Join the Movement for Poverty Reduction in Your Community
Anti-poverty networks in 25 communities will be meeting in November and December as part of the “Leadership in Hard Times: 25 in 5’s Tour to Promote Poverty Reduction,” to get ready for the next stage of the Poverty Reduction campaign. Now is the time to talk about our expectations of the government’s plan in December and to begin to organize our collective voice leading up to the 2009 spring budget in Ontario.
More than 1400 groups and individuals endorse 25 in 5
THANK YOU FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
By endorsing the 25 in 5 Declaration we sent a clear message to the Provincial Government that action on poverty reduction cannot be delayed. We expect a Poverty Reduction Strategy to be announced in the coming days that will reflect the spirit of the 25 in5 Declaration
Just some of the new organizations to endorse:
- Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
- Community Living Algoma
- Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen Community Centre
- City of Kitchener
- A Place Called Home (Residence in Lindsay)
- Etobicoke Support Services
- Preston Heights Community Group
- Poverty Reduction Work Group – Nipissing
- Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa Branch
- Evangel Hall Mission
- Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank
- Kingston Community Legal Clinic
- Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Burlington
- Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre
- Justice & Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario
- Cambridge Non-Profit Housing Corporation
- All Saints Anglican Church
- Thunder Bay and District Labour Council
- Children’s Aid Soceity of London & Middlesex
- Timiskaming Best Start Network
- Food Providers Networking Group
And you can still add your voice. Visit www.25in5.ca and sign on for poverty reduction by endorsing the 25 in 5 Declaration.
About the Countdown to a Poverty Reduction Plan eBulletins
The 25 in 5 Network is steered by a coalition of Ontario organizations including Campaign 2000, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Social Planning Network of Ontario the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, The Colour of Poverty Project, the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice, Voices From the Street, among others.
This is a weekly bulletin from 25 in 5 to its contact list of supporters and interested parties across the province. The Countdown Bulletin is intended to keep you up to date on the development of a poverty reduction plan for Ontario and to let you know how you, your organizations and networks can help make it happen.
For more information visit www.25in5.ca