Duncan follows McGuinty's first steps, food banks ask government to make giant leaps by end of year

    Food banks looking forward to completion of poverty reduction plan in

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB)
welcomes the provincial government's next steps towards poverty reduction in
today's budget, but calls on the government to make giant leaps by the end of
this year.
    The province re-affirmed previous commitments that represent a
downpayment on a poverty reduction plan with an up-front investment in
improved child benefits, dental care for children, the quality of affordable
housing, and student nutrition. The budget announcement also took additional
steps to reduce poverty which are in line with policy recommendations made by
the OAFB. These changes include:

    -   a two per cent increase to the Ontario Works (OW) and
        Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP); and
    -   a pilot asset building program to build savings for home ownership,
        business development, and education for low-income Ontarians.

    "Economic uncertainty is a real worry around many dinner tables across
the province, so we welcome these changes," said Adam Spence, Executive
Director of the OAFB. "Food banks began and experienced our greatest growth
during hard economic times. The provincial government must continue to
increase its necessary investments in poverty reduction to ensure the health,
success, and quality of life of all Ontarians."
    The OAFB calls on the provincial government to improve the affordability
of housing by introducing an emergency housing allowance program for
households in urgent need, to build opportunity by making necessary
investments to support social enterprise, and to improve the adequacy and
accessibility of social assistance.
    The provincial government also reaffirmed its commitment to complete the
poverty reduction plan by the end of 2008, including program investments,
legislative changes, targets and indicators. It will require an unprecedented
effort by government to ensure that the poverty reduction plan is completed
and supported by the necessary funds, legislation, measures and targets to
reduce hunger and poverty for the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians that are
forced to turn to food banks every month.
    "Food banks have waited for over a generation for significant change, and
the government has committed to a plan to achieve that change within the next
nine months," said Sandy Singers, Chair of the OAFB and Executive Director of
Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston. "The provincial government has
taken the next steps in the right direction in today's budget. Now they must
make great leaps in a very short period of time."

    The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) is a network of over 100
food banks working to end hunger across the province from Ottawa to Windsor,
and Niagara Falls to Thunder Bay. 320,000 Ontarians are served by food banks
every month, and 40 per cent of those served are children. For more
information on the OAFB, as well as hunger and poverty in Ontario, please
visit www.oafb.ca.

For further information:

For further information: Adam Spence, Executive Director, Ontario
Association of Food Banks (OAFB), Work: (416) 656-4100, Cell: (416) 543-0897;
Sandy Singers, Chair, Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB), Cell: (613)

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Ontario Association of Food Banks

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