TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - Ontario's most vulnerable citizens - low-income
children and their families - received some welcome good news in Finance
Minister Greg Sorbara's balanced Budget. "Those struggling to make ends meet
have been waiting and hoping for this kind of opportunity to share in
Ontario's prosperity", said Gayle Metson Chair of United Ways of Ontario, the
umbrella group for Ontario's 46 local United Ways.
The centerpiece of the McGuinty government's 2007-08 Budget is a new
5-year, $1.2 billion Ontario Child Benefit (OCB). "Consolidating benefits for
all low-income families with children under 18 will help level the playing
field and removes some of the stigma associated with receipt of social
assistance," said Metson. Starting in July 2007, the first instalment of the
OCB will provide up to $250 per child. The Budget also increases Ontario Works
and Ontario Disability Support Program rates by 2%, and commits to increase
the minimum wage by 75 cents annually for the next three years.
In addition, the Budget sprinkles around spending in a number of other
areas that benefit low-income and vulnerable people, including increases in
Legal Aid, accelerated delivery of affordable housing, more money for child
care, community recreation programs, developmental services for people with
disabilities, and improvements to the benefits for injured works.
"All and all, this Budget takes a number of important steps to improve
Ontario communities and address the needs of those who need a helping hand,
but more will be needed to reduce the growing gap between have and have-not
Ontarians," concluded Metson.
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