Ontario's Food Banks ask Duncan to maintain commitment to poverty reduction
in budget

OAFB calling for investments to increase access to healthy food, housing affordability, and economic security

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) is calling on the provincial government to maintain its commitment to poverty reduction through strategic investments in today's budget. The OAFB believes that these investments are imperative because of the continued impact of the economic downturn on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ontarians.

A recent study released by the OAFB reported that food banks are busier than ever before. Food bank usage increased by 19 per cent between fall 2008 and fall 2009, resulting in 375,000 Ontarians turning to their neighbourhood food bank for support every month. One third of these individuals were either employed full- or part-time, or unemployed for less than six months. Despite reports of an economic rebound, many communities are reporting a continued increase in food bank usage in early 2010.

In order to maintain its commitment to reduce poverty, the OAFB calls on the provincial government to:

    -   increase access to fresh, healthy, local food through the creation of
        a Farm Donation Tax Credit;
    -   increase the affordability and availability of housing by introducing
        affordable housing bonds and a new Ontario Housing Benefit for all
        low-income Ontarians;
    -   ensure individual economic security by following through on its
        commitment to comprehensive reform of social assistance, beginning
        with rule changes so that it is less punitive and encourages self-
        reliance including increasing asset limits and allowing sole support
        parents to concurrently receive social assistance and OSAP; and
    -   pressure the federal government to engage in a comprehensive review
        of Employment Insurance (EI).

"The provincial government must keep moving forward on the poverty reduction front with creative and strategic investments in this budget," said Adam Spence, Executive Director of the OAFB. "We cannot lose our collective nerve in the fight to reduce poverty. The economic and moral imperative to act is clear as our economy slowly recovers and poverty deepens in Ontario."

Adam Spence and Judy Dancause will be participating in the budget lock-up and will be available for comment immediately following the budget announcement at 4 pm.

SOURCE Ontario Association of Food Banks

For further information: For further information: Adam Spence, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB), Work: (416) 656-4100, x.2931, Mobile: (416) 543-0897; Judy Dancause, Chair, Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) and Executive Director, Agape Centre (Cornwall), Mobile: (613) 361-0332

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Ontario Association of Food Banks

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