Food banks welcome focus on poverty

    OAFB welcomes first step on a long journey to reduce poverty in Ontario

    TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB)
welcomes the provincial government's focus on poverty reduction in today's
budget announcement, describing the changes as a first step on a long journey
to reduce poverty in Ontario.
    "It was clear from the ever-growing numbers of Ontarians served by food
banks, our alarming rates of child poverty, the widening gap between rich and
poor, and the growing calls for action from the media and the public that
Ontarians were hungry for change," said Adam Spence, Executive Director of the
OAFB. "The government has begun to respond to these concerns with the right
strategy, but we need to move forward with a more substantial up-front
investment to reduce poverty in Ontario."
    In today's budget, as a centerpiece to a child poverty reduction plan,
the government announced $2.1 billion in additional funding over five years to
create a new Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) providing financial support for all
low-income families; those on social assistance and those with employment
income. The benefit will be $250 per child per year in 2007 with an investment
of $190 million, growing to $1,100 per child per year in 2010 with an
investment of $765 million. When paired with changes to social assistance, a
single mother with one child would receive an additional $40 per month in
    "The creation of a new Ontario Child Benefit is the right step for
Ontario, as a platform for moving forward with improved financial support for
all children living in poverty," said Spence. "But we will press the
provincial government to ensure that the benefit is fully realized over a much
shorter period of time."
    The budget announcement also took small steps to improve social
assistance and improve the lives of low-wage, low-income earners, which are in
line with policy recommendations made by the OAFB. These changes include:

    -   A new schedule of minimum wage increases going from $8.75 in 2008 to
        $9.50 in 2009 to $10.25 in 2010;
    -   $25 million in new funding for childcare spaces in 2007 and
        $50 million in 2008; and
    -   A 2% increase to the Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability
        Support Program (ODSP).

    "We may have balanced the budget, but a significant social deficit
remains," said Joanne Santucci, Executive Director of Hamilton Food Share and
Vice-Chair of the OAFB. "We must make poverty reduction a stated aim of
government, and take further actions to meet this goal, including: more
substantial investments, aggressive targets for poverty reduction, a low-wage
strategy, and improvements to the adequacy of social assistance."

    The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) is a network of over 100
food banks including communities across the province from Ottawa to Windsor,
and Niagara Falls to Thunder Bay. For more information about the OAFB, as well
as hunger and poverty in Ontario, please visit

For further information:

For further information: Adam Spence, Executive Director, Ontario
Association of Food Banks (OAFB), T: (416) 656-4100, C: (416) 543-0897, E:; Joanne Santucci, Vice-Chair, Ontario Association of Food Banks
(OAFB), T: (905) 664-9065, C: (905) 902-5533

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Ontario Association of Food Banks

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