Put Poverty Reduction atop Throne Speech, urge advocates

    TORONTO, Nov. 28 /CNW/ - Tomorrow's Throne Speech will be an important
signal of whether the Ontario government means business on tackling poverty,
said advocates. The "25 in 5" Network for Poverty Reduction has released an
open letter calling on the government to make the development of an "Ontario
Poverty Reduction Strategy" a top priority for its new mandate.
    "A commitment to an Ontario-wide consultation to provide input to the
poverty reduction strategy and involve low income people would be a positive
sign that the government is on the right track. We also need to hear a firm
commitment to invest in addressing poverty. At the end of the day, good
intentions and a great plan will remain stalled unless backed by significant
resources," said Jacquie Maund, Ontario Coordinator of Campaign 2000.
    Premier McGuinty's election commitment to set anti-poverty targets and
timetables within 12 months, the appointment of Deb Matthews as lead Minister
and the formation of a Cabinet committee on poverty reduction are identified
by advocates as concrete steps in the right direction.
    "The need for action is nothing short of urgent. Despite our record
levels of economic growth, poverty has persisted at the same high rates for an
entire generation. Among Aboriginal populations, racialized communities,
newcomers, and other groups, the situation is even starker, and requires bold
leadership and initiative," said Uzma Shakir, Executive Director of the South
Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.
    The 25 in 5 Network is calling for a poverty reduction target of 25% in 5
years, and 50% within the decade.
    "The government has taken steps such as the Ontario Child Benefit and the
promise of dental benefits. A poverty reduction strategy will allow us to
build on those steps by investing in a longer term vision that can also tackle
adequacy of crucial programs like income support, minimum wage, child care and
affordable housing," said Mary Marrone, Director of Litigation & Advocacy,
Income Security Advocacy Centre.

    The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction is a multi-sectoral network
comprised of sixty local and provincial organizations and individuals working
on eliminating poverty in the province.
    For more about the 25 in 5 Network and a copy of the open letter to MPPs
visit: http://www.incomesecurity.org/campaigns/current.html

For further information:

For further information: Jacquie Maund, Ontario Coordinator Campaign
2000, (416) 595-9230 ext 241; Uzma Shakir, Executive Director, South Asian
Legal Clinic of Ontario, (416) 487-6371 ext. 12; Cindy Wilkey, Income Security
Advocacy Centre, (416) 597-5820 ext 5152, (416) 892-8941 cell

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