Budget throws Ontario's poor in limbo

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The sting of recession and deep-seated poverty will continue for too many Ontarians who were left behind in today's provincial budget, says 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.

"While the provincial government held the line on some poverty reduction promises, it has thrown 162,000 Ontarians with special dietary needs into limbo by announcing the replacement of the Special Diet program with another initiative - the details of which are yet to be worked out," says 25 in 5 co-chair Michael Creek.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions about the adequacy of the new nutrition supplement."

Creek acknowledged the government's decision to raise social assistance rates by 1%, but criticized it for falling short of need. It amounts to a paltry $5.85 a month for a single person on Ontario Works.

"That's not even enough to take a return TTC trip in Toronto," Creek says. "That's playing small at a time when the province needs to step up."

The budget also offers no answer to the hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their job to recession and are poised to run out of Employment Insurance (EI).

"We've seen neighbours lose their jobs to this recession - men, women, young Ontarians, newcomers to Ontario - and they can't get back in. They're exhausting EI benefits, they're falling onto welfare rolls, they're running out of retirement investments and there's no answer for them."

The budget comes through on replacement of federal dollars for child care subsidies and funding for enforcement of employment standards. But it lacks new investments in other areas like the Ontario Child Benefit, housing affordability, employment equity, and social assistance adequacy and protection of assets.

"Without an investment plan in this budget, Ontario will fail at reaching its goal of reducing poverty by 25% by 2013," Creek says. "As a result, families will fall behind and Ontario will fall behind. For Ontario to fully recover from the last year of recession, we need all hands on deck to bring us back to prosperity. This budget fails to get us there."


For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Michael Creek, Co-Chair of 25 in 5: Network for Poverty Reduction, Tel: (416) 697-4808

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