Poverty Reduction Becomes Law in Ontario: Amended Bill 152 Gets All-Party Support

    TORONTO, May 6 /CNW/ - Ontario has taken a historic step forward on
poverty reduction with the all-party approval of Bill 152, the Poverty
Reduction Act, said the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction.
    The legislation requires Ontario to set a new poverty reduction target
and plan of action at least every five years, and to consult regularly on its
progress with low income people, groups at heightened risk of poverty, and
other key stakeholders. Poverty in Ontario can no longer be ignored.
    "As a result of tremendous community effort and the willingness of all
parties to listen, important amendments have been made to the Poverty
Reduction Act," said Greg deGroot-Maggetti, of the Mennonite Central
Committee. "This legislation gives the people of Ontario a powerful tool to
hold both current and future governments' feet to the fire when it comes to
reducing poverty."
    Amendments were made to the original Bill after the Legislature's
Standing Committee on Social Policy heard suggestions over two days of public
hearings from two dozen community representatives, and received over 40
written submissions.
    "The Committee was wise enough to listen to the expertise of the
articulate, impassioned community activists who offered excellent advice to
strengthen the Bill," said Sarah Blackstock, policy analyst with the Income
Security Advocacy Centre. "We take this as a good signal for future
consultative processes as we move collectively toward ensuring all Ontarians
have the decent standard of living to which they are entitled."
    Amendments that were advanced by community groups and accepted by the
Committee include: a commitment to reduce adult poverty alongside child and
family poverty; a recognition of the need to address discrimination and the
barriers faced by disadvantaged groups; a requirement that Ontarians and, in
particular, low-income people, be involved in design and implementation of
poverty reduction strategies; and, specific timelines for annual reporting to
the Legislature.
    The 25 in 5 Network expressed disappointment that the Bill does not
include: a vision for a poverty-free Ontario; a commitment to an independent
review; a commitment to strengthening Ontario's human rights laws and
enforcement; and a requirement that all Ontario's laws, policies and practices
be consistent with the principles of poverty reduction outlined in the
    "While the legislation falls short of envisioning a poverty-free
province, Ontario has entered the field of jurisdictions with a legislative
commitment to setting targets and timelines for poverty reduction and that is
an important step," said Peter Clutterbuck of the Social Planning Network of

For further information:

For further information: Sarah Blackstock at (416) 768-5825

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