Submission to the Ontario Legislative Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (CPAN)

Submission to the Ontario Legislative Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

Submitted by

Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN)

December 19, 2008

On Behalf of Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN) we would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to appear before you today. We would also like to commend the Ontario provincial government for The Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy that was announced December 4, 2008. CPAN is a key member of 25 in 5, Campaign 2000, and the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO), and we have welcomed and will fully support this government in your commitment to reduce child poverty in Ontario by 25% in 5 years.

The only difference between good economic times and bad economic times is that in bad times there are more people without, and more who worry about how to get through the next day. If there was ever a time for visionary and creative leadership, it is now. This needs to come from all levels of government as well as from the private sector.

It is clear that the issue of poverty, and in particular child poverty, presents itself as both a problem as well as an opportunity for government. In tough times we tend to reduce our support to those who are vulnerable… the very time we need to increase them. In fact, by concentrating on the poor there is a greater impact on economic development.

(The Cost of Poverty, 2008)

Working collectively, all levels of government need to focus on a number of things to ensure that we, not just survive in an economic turmoil, but implement progressive policies which will not only address those in need, but will, in fact, be a core ingredient in the revival of the “good times”.
What needs to happen?

  1. Endorse and implement “25 in 5” with a clear schedule, adequate funding, and defined milestones.
  2. Create 100,000 new geared-to-income houses each year for the next 5 years. This will not only provide necessary homes for those in need, but will also be a stimulus towards economic recovery.
  3. Ensure that all Ontarians have access to adequate health care benefits; including access to prescription medication and preventative dental care. No family should ever have to make the choice between providing medicine or food, especially in this Province.
  4. To work with the Federal and Provincial governments to create a maximum limit of 10 points over the prime rate. This will eliminate those companies that prey on the poor, who have the highest interest rates to pay and are least likely to ever get out of debt.
  5. To create an emergency assistance plan which will prevent homeowners from loosing their homes as we move through this recession
  6. 6. To ensure that any policies or funding strategies developed are flexible enough take into consideration both rural and urban realities and to meet the needs of any local community.
  7. To ensure that any funding assistance considers not only large industrial companies like the auto companies, but also rural-centric businesses such as forestry, farming and tourism.

No time has been better to deal with the issue of child poverty than now. In a recent poll conducted between September 24 and October 21, 2008 Environics Research conducted a national poll of 2,023 Canadians for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In a report representing the responses provided by Ontarians;

(Ontarians Waiting for Leadership on Poverty Reduction, 2008)

In July 2008 we held 4 community forums to discuss the Poverty Reduction Strategy for Ontario. Three of the four forums were attended exclusively by low income families, who we considered the real expert consultants.

We were able to collect a great deal of insight, and to made recommendations to the Honourable Deb Matthews, Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction. One of the highlights of our report was a selection of quotes from children aged 4 to 17 who were in attendance. One of the questions which we asked was ” If you could be the Prime Minister of Canada, what would you do to make all families happy?” Examples of answers are as follows;

(Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network’s submission to the Poverty Reduction Cabinet Committee, July 2008)

Presented by:
Greg Lubimiv and Lyn Smith, on behalf of Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN)

Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network
c/o Phoenix Centre for Children and Families
130 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON, K8A 5M8
Tel: 613-735-2374 x 250
cpan@phoenixctr.com

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