Good start, but clock is ticking on poverty reduction plan

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - Today's Ontario budget made an important down
payment on the province's poverty reduction plan. The budget announced:

    -   $135 million over three years to provide dental care to low-income
    -   $100 million to municipalities to repair the housing stock, as well
        as $500 million in loans to repair social housing
    -   $32 million over three years for student nutrition programs
    -   A 2% increase in social assistance rates

    The Ontario government has committed to putting in place a full poverty
reduction strategy and targets to measure its success by the end of 2008. It
has also committed to consulting with low-income Ontarians, non-profit
organizations and policy experts over the next few months to develop the plan.
    "These are good initial investments in the poverty reduction strategy
that will meet a recognized need in the community," said Gail Nyberg,
executive director of Daily Bread Food Bank. "Daily Bread was one of the first
organizations to praise the government for having the courage to tackle
poverty in a systematic way. But we will also be one of the first to take them
to task if they don't live up to their commitments. Over the next few months
we will be pressing the government to build on these and other initiatives
that will help our clients and reduce food bank lines."
    The steps taken in the budget meet needs identified by both Daily Bread's
clients and its member agencies across the GTA:

    -   75% of working poor food bank clients say they have no dental or
        prescription drug plan
    -   18% of all food bank clients rate the condition of their residence as
        "poor" or "very poor"
    -   68% of GTA food banks identified investments in affordable housing
        and rent supplements as key to reducing poverty and hunger

    Daily Bread Food Bank is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated
to fighting hunger. Last year, over 905,000 people in the GTA relied on food
banks; 34% of those clients were children. Daily Bread and its member agencies
serve the majority of these people through neighbourhood food banks and meal
programs in over 160 member agencies. In an effort to end hunger and poverty,
Daily Bread educates the public, conducts research and advocates realistic
government policies.

For further information:

For further information: Gail Nyberg, Executive Director, T: (416)
203-0050 ext. 230, E:, C: (416) 450-3203; Michael Oliphant,
Director, Research & Communications, T: (416) 203-0050 ext. 256, E:, C: (416) 450-0496

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