The third annual progress card on poverty reduction has been released by the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction. In its report, “Common Ground: A Strategy for Moving Forward on Poverty Reduction”, the Network observes that the Ontario government has made strides towards its goal of a 25 per cent reduction in child poverty by 2013, however it will need to increase its efforts in order to achieve it.
The 25 in 5 report finds that in spite of the economic recession, there has been a four per cent reduction in child poverty. But there are still 410,000 single adults living in poverty, food bank rates have soared (of which 37.5 per cent of clients are children), affordable housing measures are few, and child care measures need to be improved.
The report lays out 10 areas of common ground that were addressed to some degree in the 2011 election platforms and six more areas that should be taken up. For example, social assistance needs to be reformed, a housing benefit should be considered, and further action on minimum wage needs to take place. Beyond the common goals, community-based services need to see investments, and dental care (promised in an earlier budget) should be provided for adults.
The report provides a score card on the government’s progress in poverty reduction to date. While most of the commitments have not yet been realized, the government has made partial progress on many fronts and has reached their goals in a few areas. Notably, the government kept its promise to raise minimum wage to $10.25 by 2010. Progress has also been made in:
- Social assistance rule changes on the advice of the Social Assistance Advisory Committee (the committee itself being a commitment made in the poverty reduction strategy);
- Implementation of full-time kindergarten for four and five year olds;
- Extension of up front child care benefits so parents on assistance can pursue or stay in education/employment.
See “Common Ground: A Strategy for Moving Forward on Poverty Reduction,” available at www.25in5.ca.