Earlier Today, Ontario MPP Deb Mathews released the McGuinty administrations Poverty Reduction Plan.
The plan contains a series of encouraging steps as well as number of clear challenges.
First, the good news; The plan commits the province to reducing Child Poverty by 25% in 5 years and contains some new money for a number of poverty reduction programs including the Child Tax Benefit, the Rent Bank Fund and for the hiring of new employment standards officers to crack down of bad employers.
Now, the challenges; Scaled to the population of Ontario, Quebec made the equivalent of $1 billion of new annual investments in poverty reduction during the early years of their plan. Ontario has only committed to spending $300 million, some of which may have already been allocated. Further, the plan calls on much of the resources required to be meet the goal of 25 in 5 to be committed by the Federal Government, with no hint as to whether or not the Fed's would actually provide the resources.
Only two weeks after a report by the Ontario Food Bank showed that failure to address the root causes of poverty is costing Ontarians $13 billion annually (that's $2,895 per person!) in lost government revenues and lost economic activity we had hoped for bolder action from the Province. For instance, the plan failed to include a commitment to passing inclusive zoning legislation that would enable municipalities to legislate the create of affordable housing units in new developments, and would have virtually no cost to the Provincial coffers.
As this plan moves to implementation, ACORN members will be there, along with our allies, to hold the Province accountable and to continue to demand real change to reduce poverty.