Coalition warns poverty reduction at risk

TORONTO, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - One year into the Ontario government's commitment to reduce child poverty by 25 per cent by 2013, the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction warns the province risks missing its target unless further action is taken.

An anniversary report released today by 25 in 5 that tracks Ontario's progress shows the province's poverty reduction strategy has taken significant steps in the first year, but the next steps cannot come soon enough to support struggling Ontarians and help with the province's economic recovery.

"A year into the promise to reduce poverty, the damaging effect of the recession has taken root in every community in this province," says Greg deGroot-Maggetti, co-chair of 25 in 5. "Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians have lost jobs and many are losing hope. Without immediate public support, the province's poverty rate will explode."

In its anniversary report, 25 in 5 documents positive progress but warns that several challenges lay ahead:

    
    -  The impact of the last year of recession makes poverty prevention and
       reduction an even more urgent but very do-able task for the provincial
       government;
    -  Repeating the mistakes of the 1990s - especially cuts to public sector
       programs and services - will act as a drag on the province's economic
       recovery and perpetuate poverty;
    -  The province must make good on its promise to review social
       assistance, especially in light of the recession that is forcing many
       more Ontarians to seek support;
    -  The province must speed up several other measures necessary for
       poverty reduction, including an improved Ontario Child Benefit,
       stimulus measures in affordable housing and early learning, action to
       raise the minimum wage and social assistance incomes, and a new dental
       program for low income Ontarians.
    

"The good news is that investing in poverty reduction benefits everyone and can be a crucial player in Ontario's economic recovery," says Mike Creek, co-chair of 25 in 5. "For instance, every dollar provided through the Ontario Child Benefit and other income programs ends up with local retailers and grocery stores. These dollars will help prevent a longer and deeper recession and get Ontario into recovery mode faster."

The 25 in 5 Report is available at www.25in5.ca. The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction is a multi-sectoral coalition of more than 100 provincial and Toronto-based organizations and individuals working to eliminate poverty.

SOURCE 25 IN 5 NETWORK

For further information: For further information: Media contact: Trish Hennessy, (416) 525-4927

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25 IN 5 NETWORK

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