Ontario acts on poverty reduction, food banks look towards budget for investments

    Ontario's food banks welcome poverty reduction legislation and look for
    investments in upcoming provincial budget

    TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB)
welcomes the introduction of Ontario's Poverty Reduction Act, presented for
the first time in the legislature today. The organization believes that this
important legislative commitment must be followed by significant investments
that target all low-income Ontarians in the upcoming budget that can both
reduce poverty and stimulate the economy.
    "We welcome this new legislation as an important step forward as it
establishes an ongoing mandate for poverty reduction," said Adam Spence,
Executive Director of the OAFB. "It will be vital that the provincial
government maintains this focus, especially during a time when an increasing
number of Ontarians are losing their jobs and struggling to put food on their
    The legislation commits the provincial government and its successors to
an enduring mandate to reduce poverty. The Act will require governments to:
set a poverty reduction target every five years; report annually on poverty
reduction indicators; develop a new strategy every five years; and ensure that
Ontarians are consulted in the development of future strategies. These
legislative requirements are in line with recommendations made by the OAFB.
    "This legislation must be followed by investments that reduce poverty and
support Ontarians living on the edge," said Adam Spence, Executive Director of
the OAFB. "We are in the middle of a turbulent economic storm that may cause
poverty and its terrible costs to increase."
    A recent study by the OAFB and leading economists and thinkers in Ontario
demonstrated that poverty carries a hefty price tag. The federal and Ontario
government are losing at least $10.4 billion to $13.1 billion a year due to
poverty in foregone tax revenues, a loss equal to between 10.8 to 16.6 per
cent of the provincial budget. These projected costs will likely rise without
a significant intervention by the provincial government.
    Looking ahead at the provincial budget announcement, the OAFB will be
looking for investments consistent with the organization's proposals that will
reduce poverty and stimulate the economy including:

    -   accelerating the schedule of increases to the Ontario Child Benefit
    -   increasing the maximum Ontario Works (OW) and ODSP allowance to
        account for increases in the cost of living;
    -   investments in the repair of existing social housing and the
        construction of new public housing units;
    -   reforms to social assistance including increases to allowable asset
        limits; and
    -   other targeted stimulus measures focusing on low-income Ontarians.

    "Our economic recovery can be founded upon investments that we need to
make in poverty reduction," said Judy Dancause, Chair of OAFB and Executive
Director of the Agape Centre in Cornwall. "We will continue to press the
provincial government to make these necessary targeted investments in the
upcoming provincial budget."

    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. 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, Mobile: (416)

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Ontario Association of Food Banks

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