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					Building A
Resilient Ontario:
From Poverty Reduction to
Economic Opportunity
Year Two of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy
The 25in5 Network for Poverty Reduction is a multi-sectoral
network comprised of more than 100 provincial and Toronto-
based organizations and individuals working on eliminating

Produced by the Accountability Table of the 25in5 Network for
Poverty Reduction November 29, 2010
Building A Resilient Ontario:
From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity
Year Two of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

In this, the second annual report of            The second part of the report, in the
the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty                 chart that begins on page 10, gives a
Reduction, we continue to track the             detailed look at the progress Ontario
progress of the Ontario government              has made to date on meeting its
in meeting its poverty reduction                specific commitments. We also
commitments.                                    compare these commitments to 25 in
                                                5’s Five Tests for Success, to help you
Poverty reduction is a commitment               determine whether the government’s
we make to each other, to ensuring              efforts have successfully met the
that individuals and families across            challenge.
Ontario are able to recover from
economic and social misfortunes. It             This report shows how far the
is also a commitment that all parties           provincial government has come in
in the legislature made to all                  making good on the promise, and
Ontarians.                                      how much further it has yet to go. As
                                                Ontario nears the halfway point of its
In the first part of the report, we              five-year poverty reduction timeline,
look at the importance of poverty               the mission is to stay focused and
reduction initiatives for all Ontarians         make good on the promise. We can’t
given the current economic and                  take our eyes off the prize.
s o c i a l c o n te x t . Wi t h s o m u c h
uncertainty about when the economy
will finally recover from the
recession, continuing to invest in
poverty reduction remains the smart
policy option. And we also offer
government a plan for priorities in
the coming year, to give Ontarians
leadership in these anxious times.
“On moral grounds, it can be argued that some help for
the poor is better than no help at all. But on strict
economic grounds, the costs of providing insufficient help
can be massive…. When both private and public (or social)
costs are combined, poverty costs the residents of Ontario
a staggering $32 billion to $38 billion a year – the
equivalent of 5.5 per cent to 6.6. per cent of provincial
GDP…. This immense sum of money would obviously be
better spent removing the source of these dead-weight
costs – widespread poverty – than continuing to treat the
devastating symptoms of its effects. If properly spent,
what this money would ultimately buy is a healthier,
better educated and more productive workforce, in which
far more Ontarians would have a stake in making the
province work for the benefit of all.”

Cost of Poverty, Ontario Association of Food Banks.
                                                 “ Unfortunately, we cannot
A 25 in 5 Network for
Poverty Reduction report                         expect an overnight recovery
on the second anniversary                         from this deep and painful
of Ontario’s poverty                             [economic] crisis, because it wi$
reduction commitment.                            take many years for economies
Resilience: The ability to recover               and jobs to be rebuilt. The to$
readily, as from misfortune.                     on the poor wi$ be very real.”
                                                  Justin Lin, World Bank chief economist
Reducing poverty for a
strong economic recovery                          Investing in equitable and inclusive
                                                  education and skills training,
The clock is ticking on the provincial            supportive income programs,
government’s commitment to lift 25                e m p l o y m e n t e q u i t y, a n d e a r l y
per cent of Ontario children and                  learning and child care lays the
their families out of poverty by                  foundation for strong, inclusive
December 2013. The halfway point is               communities and a competitive
nearly here.                                      workforce – one that can respond to
                                                  the challenges of a global economy in
Making good on this commitment                    transition. Action on this, and much
would distinguish Ontario as the first             more, is what’s needed to meet the
jurisdiction in Canada to set a                   goal of reducing child poverty by 25
poverty reduction target and timeline             per cent in the next three years.
– and deliver on the promise.
                                                 The provincial government made its
Delivering on the promise makes for              commitment to reduce poverty on
good economic opportunity. It would              December 4, 2008 with the release of
lift 90,000 children and their                   “Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s
families out of the depths of poverty,           Poverty Reduction Plan”. In Year
filling a new generation with hope.               One it backed that commitment with
                                                 legislative changes that bind the
And it’s smart policy, because every             government to poverty reduction. All
Ontarian freed from poverty is better            three political parties at Queen’s
equipped to contribute to an                     Pa r k s u p p o r t e d t h e Po v e r t y
economic recovery that needs “all                Reduction Act, pledging unanimous
hands on deck”.                                  support for staying the course on the

         Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity           1
goal to reduce child poverty in the                 On the positive side, the budget
next five years and beyond.                          replaced lapsed federal dollars with
                                                    $63.5 million in needed child care
25 in 5’s first report, entitled Making              subsidies and offered $4.5 million in
Good on the Promise, tracked                        annual funding to better enforce
government’s progress in that first                  workplace standards – both welcome
y e a r, n o t i n g t h e l e g i s l a t i v e    measures. It also took the bold move
commitment as well as noteworthy                    of protecting low-income households
investments in poverty reduction                    by implementing new HST tax
initiatives.                                        credits that cushion the blow of a
                                                    harmonized sales tax.
Two New Challenges
                                                    On the negative side, the budget
On the second anniversary of the                    took poverty reduction a huge step
poverty reduction commitment,                       back with an announcement that the
there are two significant – but not                  Special Diet program – which
insurmountable – challenges for                     s u p p o r t s 1 6 2 , 0 0 0 l o w- i n c o m e
government to overcome.                             Ontarians with therapeutic dietary
                                                    needs – would be cancelled and
                                                    replaced with a much more limited
Challenge #1: Keep Poverty
                                                    p r o g r a m . It a l s o l a c ke d n e w
Reduction on the Front                              investments in other areas like the
Burner                                              Ontario Child Benefit, housing
                                                    affordability, employment equity, and
The first challenge is to keep poverty               income adequacy for people forced
reduction front and centre on the                   to rely on social assistance.
agenda. This requires making
substantial multi-year investments in               The provincial budget also offered no
programs that have been proven to                   answer to the hundreds of thousands
work.                                               of workers who have lost their jobs to
                                                    recession and r un out of
Unfortunately, in the second year of                Employment Insurance (EI).
the go ver nment’s strategy, the
2010-11 provincial budget ga ve                     Meanwhile, the global recession
poverty reduction shorter shrift than               placed new pressures on Ontarians
a five-year goal warrants.                           living close to the margins. Between
                                                    No v e m b e r 2 0 0 8 ( t h e s t a r t o f
                                                    recession) and August 2010 (the

           Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity           2
beginning of economy recovery), the                 term affordable housing strategy,
proportion of men, women and                        promised in 2008, has yet to be
children on Ontario Disability                      announced.
S u p p o r t Pr o g r a m ( O D S P ) a n d
Ontario Works (OW) went up by                       Since budget day, the government’s
17.5%. Food bank use skyrocketed                    approach to one aspect of poverty
across Ontario – among low-income                   prevention – a seamless full-day early
working families as well as those on                learning program for children 12 and
ODSP and OW.                                        under – has progressed. Full day
                                                    kindergarten for children aged 4 and
“As soon as the rent’s paid, first                   5 is underway in many communities
                                                    and a significant investment has been
 thing I do is stock up on food,                    made in the next generation of
which genera$y means I've got                       Ontarians. There is, however, more
                                                    work to be done. For instance, before
 three days worth of food. For                      and after school earl y learning
 the rest of the month I hit soup                   programs are still piecemeal, falling
 kitchens and food banks.”                          short of the early learning advisor’s
                                                    vision for a seamless day of program
Single OW recipient
                                                    supports for children and their
Recently, the government’s own
social assistance advisory council                  As we near the mid-way point, lack
recommended an overhaul of income                   of decisive, timely initiatives to
supports to transform the current                   accelerate      the     provincial
system into programs that show                      government’s poverty reduction
Ontarians a pathway out of poverty                  promise suggests the government
rather than confine them to the                     may have taken its eye off the prize.
margins.                                            The window of oppor tunity is
                                                    narrowing, but there is time to
The government has been slow to                     refocus and make good on the
move       for ward           on         this       promise, starting with the next
recommendation. It also appears to                  provincial budget.
have stalled on its own committee’s
wo r k to r e - i m a g i n e af f o r d a b l e
housing – one of the most effective
ways to address the needs of
Ontarians. The government’s long-

           Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity   3
                                                    Investments in the Ontario Child
Challenge #2: Stay the                              Benefit and minimum wage increases
Course in Troubled Times                            helped put dollars on Main Street,
                                                    stimulating local economies at a time
                                                    when they needed it most.
“If the economy is improving,
                                                    Stimulus investments on physical
someone forgot to let the folks at                  i n f r a s t r u c t u r e ke p t O n t a r i a n s
the breadlines in on the secret.”                   employed while leaving behind a
Joe Gunn, Executive Director, Citizens              legacy of new community centres,
for Public Justice                                  better roads, water pipes, and sewage
The second challenge facing
government stems from the                           Many of these investments were
worldwide economic recession.                       targeted to those on the lower end of
                                                    the income spectrum. Though more
Political opportunists are using                    children and their families fell into
go ver nment deficits caused by                     poverty during the recession,
stimulus investments as an excuse to                government actions at the height of
cut spending on public services that                the economic downturn prevented
all Ontarians rely on.                              many from spiraling into deeper
                                                    poverty than they would without
The global economy fell into deep                   public assistance.
recession in 2008 – the very year
Ontario decided to get serious about                It was smart policy, playing a critical
reducing poverty.                                   role in staving off a longer and deeper
                                                    recession. Building healthy, safe
Recessions tend to push more people                 communities where everyone belongs
into poverty, so the timing of the                  and has a chance to bounce back
p r o v i n ce ’s co m m i t m e n t to l i f t     from misfortune is the epitome of
children and their families out of                  good government – and it’s why the
poverty couldn’t have been better.                  provincial government needs to
                                                    renew its efforts to reduce poverty
Ontario was smart to stay the course                post-recession.
on poverty reduction.
                                                    There are some who would prey on
                                                    t h e p u b l i c ’s f e a r s a b o u t s l o w
                                                    economic growth, using them as an

           Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity               4
e x c u s e to w a l k a w a y f r o m t h e       “Supporting the vulnerable and
promise to reduce poverty. But
periods of slow growth are exactly                 helping people succeed is not only
when governments should redouble                    fair but is also good for the
their efforts.
                                                   economy.” Premier Dalton McGuinty
Women, Ontarians from racialized,
i m m i g r a n t , a n d Ab o r i g i n a l        Putting poverty reduction on hold
co m m u n i t i e s , a n d p e o p l e w i t h    during an economic slowdown only
disabilities are disproportionately                 makes income inequality worse – and
poor and, therefore, more likely to                 inequality had already reached new
experience hardship in times of                     heights before the global recession
e c o n o m i c t u r m o i l . Ma n y h a v e      weakened Ontario’s economy.
remained on the sidelines of
economic activity, even after years of              Putting poverty reduction on hold
strong economic performance in                      also ignores the reality that Ontario
Ontario.                                            needs the work and revenue
                                                    contributions of ever y single
We must not repeat the mistakes of                  household in this province to rebuild
the 1990s. During the last recession,               our province’s economy, to reduce its
Ontario’s poorest households were                   fiscal deficit, and to protect public
hardest hit by the economic                         services that benefit everyone.
downturn and it took them much
longer to bounce back. Investments                  The economy is on the mend, but
in social programs and equity                       recovery remains fragile. The threat
enhancing measures were cut back                    of Ontario dipping back into
s e v e r e l y, a c c o m p a n i e d b y a        recession is very real. Ontario faces a
scapegoating rhetoric that tarred and               serious challenge in creating a
feathered the most vulnerable.                      healthy economy sustained by good
                                                    paying, secure, equitably accessible
This troubling period in our history                jobs to replace the hundreds of
took a divisive approach to politics –              thousands of manufacturing jobs lost
one that only drove wedges between                  in the last decade.
us, and failed to accomplish the
important task of lifting Ontarians                 To make Ontario a prosperous
out of poverty. Making the same                     jurisdiction in a competitive global
mistake again isn’t an option.                      context wil l take a substantial
                                                    investment by the public for the

           Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity   5
public. Ontario will pay a steep price              are str ug gling to sur vive f rom
if we take a political road that                    paycheque to paycheque. Household
favours some Ontarians while leaving                debt has reached dangerous levels,
others behind. We will pay a steep                  spurring Bank of Canada Governor
price if we allow a generation of                   Mark Carney to warn that it simply
formidable minds to waste away on                   isn’t sustainable.
the sidelines.
                                                    Ontario families are worried and, just
In t h e n e x t f e w y e a r s , t h e            like they did at the start of recession,
government of Ontario needs to                      they are turning to their
invest in skills development and                    governments for leadership in tough
training supports for the poor and                  times. An austerity agenda that walks
unemployed in a way it hasn’t done in               away from poverty reduction and
decades.                                            eliminates the public services and
                                                    programs that all Ontarians need
“Fighting poverty brings us                         only adds to the worry.

together. Living in poverty tears                   Breaking the Cycle: A Plan
us apart.”                                          for Year Three
Gunnar, People’s Blueprint for Social
                                                    T h e p r e s s u r e to m a i n t a i n t h e
                                                    commitment to the Ontario
                                                    government’s own poverty reduction
Smart Policies for Tough                            goals is not going away. In the
Times: Ontario Families                             coming year, Ontarians are looking to
Looking for Leadership                              their provincial government to
                                                    implement and fund smart policies
Sitting back and hoping the private
                                                    that achieve four core goals during
sector will save the province from
                                                    this next period of economic
the wrath of global economic
competition is not an option. It
hasn’t worked so far. Not here. Not
                                                    1. Ensure no one falls through
                                                       the cracks during times of
                                                       need.       This        requires
Meanwhile, households are growing
                                                       implementation of policies to
a n x i o u s . Ac c o r d i n g t o a p o l l
                                                       ensure unemployed Ontarians
conducted by the Canadian Payroll
                                                       have a secure safety net that
Association, six out of 10 Canadians
                                                       allows them to live in dignity and

           Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity         6
  to develop their skills to get back                 equitably accessible opportunity.
  into the labour market. This                        This includes:
                                                      • Listening         to      lived
  • Kick-starting the income                            experience: People living in
    security review and building                        poverty have expertise on
    livable incomes:  The                               actions that need to be taken to
    pro vince ha s committed to                         make life better. Government
    review Ontario Works (OW) and                       must create a community-based,
    the Ontario Disability Support                      inclusively representative
    Program (ODSP), but to date                         advisory committee to provide
    there has been no action. The                       expert      advice     to   the
    government needs to start a                         government's Results Team and
    social assistance review that                       must ensure that the Social
    l o o k s a t t h e b r o a d i n co m e            Assistance Review has a central
    security system and how to                          role for those with lived
    promote opportunity and dignity                     experience with the system.
    for all Ontarians. Social
    assistance incomes today have                     •A           strategy                for
    the same purchasing power as                       d i s p ro p o r t i o n a te l y p o o r
    they did in 1967. The incomes of                   c o m m u n i t i e s :   Wo m e n ,
    people on social assistance need                   Ontarians from racialized groups
    to be increased immediately,                       (communities of colour and
    through measures such as the                       Aboriginal Peoples), and people
    $100 Healthy Food Supplement.                      with disabilities, and newcomers
    Ontario should also immediately                    are disproportionately poor. The
    implement the rule changes                         province needs a poverty
    recommended by its own Social                      reduction strategy that uses
    Assistance Review Advisor y                        targeted measures to effectively
    Council, including raising asset                   address the structural and
    limits.                                            systemic poverty within diverse
                                                       communities – one that offers
2. Invest in people, their skills,                     hope and opportunity for this
   and their efforts to secure                         and future generations.
   work. This requires action, such
   reforming social assistance, to                    • Increased supports for post-
   align it with broader human                          secondar y education and
   development goals that lead to                       training: Education is linked to

         Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity          7
   nearl y ever y positive social                     funding required to meet higher
   outcome, but not all students                      demand.
   have an equitable chance for
   success. Apprenticeships,                         • Dental care for low-income
   college, and university – which                     O n t a r i a n s :   T h e p r o v i n ce
   provide access to good jobs – are                   promised a new dental program
   out of reach for many low-                          for low-income Ontarians. It has
   income Ontarians. Whether for                       moved ahead on a new
   people on OW and ODSP or for                        community-based, preventative
   those who are working, investing                    focused program targeted at
   in and improving access to post-                    children.              But           full
   secondary education and training                    implementation of this
   is a critical part of preparing all                 commitment that ensures
   Ontarians to contribute to                          services are available to low-
   economic recovery.                                  income adults as well as children
                                                       has yet to take place.
3. Ensure jobs are pathways out
   of poverty. This includes:                    4. Create an infrastructure for
                                                    opportunity. Keep investing in
  • A good jobs strategy: The                       programs to support a strong
    Ontario government must ensure                  economic recovery. Early learning
    that a job is a pathway out of                  and quality child care, affordable
    poverty. Boosting the minimum                   housing       and   affordable,
    wage to $11 in 2011, and indexing               dependable transit help people get
    increases to inflation – as well as              to work – and make cities work
    beefing up employment                           too. This includes:
    standards enforcement and
    bringing         for ward        a               • Continuing to move ahead on
    comprehensive employment                           social infrastructure investments
    equity initiative – are also vital.                is critical not only to meet
    Income supports such as child                      Ontario's poverty reduction goal
    and housing benefits as well as                     but also to get the province's
    dental care also make work a                       economy into ful l reco ver y
    sustainable option for individuals                 mode. Affordable housing, early
    and families. Retraining and                       learning and child care, expanded
    education programs are also in                     p u b l i c t r a n s i t , a n d i n co m e
    critical need of the additional                    supports such as the Ontario
                                                       Child Benefit, a new housing

        Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity             8
    benefit and improved social                   Ontario’s Poverty Reduction
    assistance incomes are crucial to             Strategy Commitments and
    stimulating jobs and local                    Results to Date (2008-2010)
    economies by putting resources                 
    into the hands of low-income                  The chart that begins on the
    Ontarians.                                    following page compares the
                                                  government of Ontario’s Poverty
Investments Needed to                             Reduction Commitments with the
Reach Poverty Goal                                Five Tests outlined in 2008 by the 25
                                                  in 5 Network, and shows the
Poverty reduction benefits everyone.
                                                  government’s progress on its
It’s smart policy because it’s about
                                                  commitment in Years One and Two
building resilient communities. As
                                                  of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Ontario nears the halfway point of its
poverty reduction timeline, the
mission is to stay focused and to
make good on the promise.                         * No action toward meeting the 25 in 5
This report shows how far the                     ½* Partial fulfillment or work underway
province has come in making good                      toward meeting the 25 in 5 Test        
                                                  ˜* Fulfillment of government commitment
on its promise, and how much
                                                      that meets the 25 in 5 Test for a
further it has yet to go. One thing is                Successful Poverty Reduction Strategy
clear: Without an investment plan in              !* Progress made, but caution required
the 2011-12 budget, Ontario will not
meet its goal of reducing poverty by
25% by 2013. As a result, families will
falter and Ontario, already struggling
from the weight of a worldwide
recession, will fall further behind – an
outcome we cannot afford.

         Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity     9
FIVE TESTS FOR A                  POVERTY

TEST #1: A 25 in 5 TARGET
An overall target of reducing     Reduce the number of     Year One: A target was set for child poverty, but not adult poverty.             ½
poverty by 25% in 5 years         children living in       YEAR TWO: 25 in 5 continues to advocate for a broader poverty reduction strategy
                                  poverty by 25 percent    to address adult poverty as well as child poverty.
                                  over 5 years.
A clear way to measure            Lead Income Measure:     Year One: The 25 in 5 Network called for a lead income-measure combined with a ½
progress: A lead income-          see Measure #6.          set of additional indicators.
measure combined with a set of    Measure #1: School       YEAR TWO:
additional indicators             Readiness - Indicator:   Lead Income Measure: 2008 Statistics Canada data became available for the Low
                                  Early Development        Income Measure (LIM) in 2010. This data shows that 15.2% of children in Ontario
                                  Instrument.              were living in low income (after tax) in 2008. The target, therefore, is to reduce this
                                  Measure #2:              number to 10.5% by 2013. Note that in 2010 Statistics Canada revised the way in
                                  Educational Progress -   which LIM is calculated to make it consistent with the way it is calculated
                                  Indicator: EQAO          internationally. These baseline 2008 LIM figures are thus higher than anticipated,
                                  Score.                   but only because of this revision of the calculation methodology.
                                  Measure #3: High         LIM after tax (for all persons, including both children and adults) rose from 11.2% in
                                  School Graduation        2007 to 12.5% in 2008. A 25% reduction in overall poverty would mean bringing the
                                  Rates - Indicator:       proportion of all people living in poverty down to 9.4% by 2013.
                                  Graduation Rates.        Measure #7: The new Ontario Housing Measure was released in December 2009
                                  Measure #4: Birth        in conjunction with the government’s first annual report on poverty reduction.
                                  Weights - Indicator:     The government will track progress on the percentage of families with children with
                                  Healthy Birth Weights.   incomes below 40% of median family income (LIM 40 – Measure #5) who pay more
                                  Measure #5: Depth of     than 40% of their income on housing. In 2007, 4% of Ontario families were in this
                                  Poverty - Indicator:     situation; however, this data includes homeowner households, a group with median
                                  Low Income Measure       incomes more than twice that of tenant households. Statistics Canada data shows
                                  (40%).                   that 20% of Ontario tenant households pay 50% or more of their household income
                                  Measure #6: Low          on shelter; 45% of tenant households pay 30% or more). As of 2010, there are
                                  Income Measure -         141,635 low-income households on active waitlists for social housing – an increase
                                  Indicator: Low Income    of 9.6% in one year.
                                  Measure (50%).           Measure #8: The Deprivation Index was also released in conjunction with the
                                  Measure #7: Ontario      government’s first annual report. It showed that 12.5% of all children in Ontario in
                                  Housing Measure -        2009 met the standard of deprivation, lacking two or more items in the Deprivation
                                  Indicator: Housing       Index.
                                  Measure.                 The government has not committed to break down its poverty measures / indicators
                                  Measure #8: Standard     along geographic or demographic lines. Doing so is required in order to provide
                                  of Living - Indicator:   vital information that will help direct provincial and municipal poverty reduction
                                  Deprivation Index.       strategies toward historically disadvantaged population groups and areas of
                                                           greatest need and impact.

Sustaining Employment
Poverty-proof the minimum         Confirm commitment to    Year One: The minimum wage was raised to $9.50 an hour in March 2009.            ½
wage for full-time earners        raise minimum wage to    YEAR TWO: The minimum wage was raised to $10.25 an hour in March 2010, as
                                  $10.25 an hour by        scheduled. The government has not indicated whether it will increase the minimum
                                  2010.                    wage to $11 an hour in 2011 or create a new schedule for regular increases.

                                 Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                   10
FIVE TESTS FOR A                 POVERTY

Update and enforce               Invest $10 million      Year One: Budget 2009 invested an additional $4.5 million annually to hire more   !
employment standards for all     annually to hire new    Employment Standards Officers.
workers.                         employment standards    YEAR TWO: The Open for Business Act (Bill 68), passed on October 21, 2010,
                                 officers, improve       creates a Task Force and Modernization Strategy in the Ministry of Labour to help
                                 Employment Standards    ease the backlog in dealing with Employment Standards complaints and violations.
                                 Act compliance and      The Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Clinic are concerned
                                 reduce the backlog of   that this will create new barriers and burdens for workers who face unpaid wages,
                                 claims.                 including the new mandatory self-enforcement step, settlement of claims for less
                                                         than what workers are owed under the law, and changes to the requirements for
                                                         information before claims are accepted. See for more

                                 Propose legislation     Year One: Bill 139, The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Temporary Help              !
                                 related to temporary    Agencies) was passed on May 4, 2009 and came into effect November 6, 2009 to
                                 help agencies.          provide new protections to workers.
                                                         YEAR TWO: While Bill 139 is welcome legislation, worker advocates report that
                                                         agencies continue to find ways to avoid paying severance and equal pay, and note
                                                         that charging fees for permanent placements are still allowed. These
                                                         implementation issues and broader enforcement of worker rights across the board
                                                         need a strategy beyond the promise to address the backlog of claims within two
                                                         years, so that workers can truly realize the promise of new and existing legislation.

Create strong employment and No commitment was           Year One: The government remains silent even though Ontario is in violation of      
pay equity programs.         made.                       United Nations pay equity standards.
                                                         YEAR TWO: No commitment / no progress. Mandatory employment equity and pay
                                                         equity legislation would go a long way to addressing systemic discrimination in the
                                                         workplace. Colour of Poverty / Colour of Change, along with 25 in 5, continues to
                                                         advocate for employment and pay equity.

Expand access to dental, drug    Invest $45 million      Year One: In January 2009, the Children in Need of Treatment (CINOT) program           ½
and vision coverage.             annually to provide     was expanded to include children up to age 18. In October 2009, the government
                                 dental care for low-    invited public health units across Ontario to submit proposals for start-up funding to
                                 income Ontarians.       deliver a new Low-Income Dental Program, with children and youth as the first
                                                         priority. Access must be expanded to provide services to low-income adults.
                                                         YEAR TWO: On Oct. 1, 2010 the government announced the launch of the Healthy
                                                         Smiles Ontario Program. The aim is to deliver preventive health services to children
                                                         17 and under whose family net income is below $20,000 and who are not eligible
                                                         for any other form of dental coverage. This program is being delivered through local
                                                         public health units.
                                                         This is a step forward. However, low income adults are still without access to
                                                         preventive and basic dental care or vision care.

                                Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                     11
FIVE TESTS FOR A                 POVERTY

Make training and education      Invest $2 billion over     Year One: To cope with overwhelming demand, on November 13, 2009 the                   ½
real, meaningful and easy to     three years in Skills to   government announced new guidelines for the Second Career Program to include
access.                          Jobs Action Plan,          family income testing. These new guidelines will limit access to re-training
                                 including the Second       programs for many workers, including women.
                                 Career Program, a          YEAR TWO: In the first year of the poverty reduction strategy, 28,000 workers were
                                 retraining program for     served by the Second Career program. Additional funding of $78 million in the 2010
                                 workers laid off           budget will allow for another 30,000 workers to receive support over two years.
                                 since 2005, with a
                                 grant of up to $28,000     Advocates report that while the Second Career program holds tremendous
                                 to help pay for tuition    promise, there is much more demand for laid-off worker retraining and upgrading
                                 fees, books and living     than is currently being offered.
                                 expenses.                  In addition, the new family income test has left many laid-off workers with
                                                            significantly insufficient incomes to support their transition back into the labour
                                                            market. Workers wait anxiously to hear if they are approved for training, only to find
                                                            they can’t live on the income they’re assigned. Additional income supports, such as
                                                            extended EI benefits, are required to make Second Career a truly successful
                                                            The program has also revealed a need for additional support for those who require
                                                            basic, pre-college upgrading. A new foundational infrastructure of basic skills and
                                                            literacy bridging programs, with a strong link to Second Career, is also required by
                                                            many Ontarians – some of whom are older workers or people from racialized
                                                            groups who lack these aspects of formal education.

Call on Ottawa to enrich the     Call on federal            Year One: The 2009 federal budget made some progress. Ontario has not yet             ½
Working Income Tax Benefit.      government to              responded to Ottawa’s invitation to discuss tailoring the WITB to the provincial
                                 increase its support for   strategy.
                                 the Working Income         YEAR TWO: The Ontario government has responded to Ottawa’s invitation by
                                 Tax Benefit.               saying the federal government should increase the WITB. As of yet, Ontario has
                                                            not yet taken Ottawa up on its offer to tailor the design of the WITB to provincial

Livable Incomes
Close the gap between life on    Review social              Year One: The review continues to be delayed.                                       
social assistance and moving     assistance with the        YEAR TWO: The government announced the creation of the Social Assistance
out of poverty.                  goal of removing           Review Advisory Council (SARAC) on December 2, 2009. In June 2010, SARAC
                                 barriers and increasing    issued a report calling for a broad review of income security programs in Ontario
                                 opportunity.               led by two commissioners. The report also pointed to the need for an immediate
                                                            increase in incomes for adults receiving social assistance.
                                                            While SARAC was preparing its report, the government announced its intent to
                                                            cancel the Special Diet Allowance Program and replace it with a more restrictive
                                                            Nutritional Supplement Program, delivered through the Ministry of Health and
                                                            Long-Term Care. At the time of writing (November 2010), the government has
                                                            neither launched the Social Assistance Review nor announced details of the
                                                            Nutritional Supplement Program.
                                                            25 in 5, along with a number of health and anti-poverty groups around the province,
                                                            are calling for deliberations on the new program to be specifically included in the
                                                            Social Assistance Review, so that the question of how best to respond to dietary
                                                            needs can be considered within the broader context of all income security

                                Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                       12
FIVE TESTS FOR A                     POVERTY

                                     Fully exempt as          Year One: Implemented January 2009                                            ˜
                                     income the earnings of   YEAR TWO: In 2010, the government’s Social Assistance Review Advisory Council
                                     persons on social        (SARAC) recommended an additional 13 rule changes that the government could
                                     assistance who are       implement to improve Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program
                                     participating in post-   for recipients. The government subsequently implemented four additional rule
                                     secondary education.     changes. Nine recommendations remain to be implemented, but indications are
                                                              that these will be considered in the course of the upcoming Social Assistance

                                     Extend the Up-Front      Year One: Implemented January 2009                                            ˜
                                     Child Care Benefit to    YEAR TWO: In 2010, the government’s Social Assistance Review Advisory Council
                                     participants who may     (SARAC) recommended an additional 13 rule changes that the government could
                                     require support to       implement to improve Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program
                                     maintain their           for recipients. The government subsequently implemented four additional rule
                                     participation in         changes. Nine recommendations remain to be implemented, but indications are
                                     employment and           that these will be considered in the course of the upcoming Social Assistance
                                     employment               Review.
                                     assistance activities.

                                     Extend the time period   Year One: Implemented January 2009                                            ˜
                                     to request an internal   YEAR TWO: In 2010, the government’s Social Assistance Review Advisory Council
                                     review from 10 days to   (SARAC) recommended an additional 13 rule changes that the government could
                                     30 days.                 implement to improve Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program
                                                              for recipients. The government subsequently implemented four additional rule
                                                              changes. Nine recommendations remain to be implemented, but indications are
                                                              that these will be considered in the course of the upcoming Social Assistance

                                     Look at our programs     Year One: No action to date.                                                         
                                     with a person-centred    YEAR TWO: Advocates continue to press government to ensure that Ontario’s
                                     approach.                income security programs are transformed from the current culture of intrusive
                                                              monitoring and punitive rules into programs that focus on personalized
                                                              assessment, collaborative planning, and flexible supports. 25 in 5 is advocating for
                                                              the Social Assistance Review to address this commitment.

Make it easier for people with       No commitment was        Year One: No action to date.                                                 
disabilities to get access to the    made.                    YEAR TWO: Improving access to ODSP was one of the 13 rule changes
Ontario Disability Support                                    recommended by the government’s Social Assistance Review Advisory Council
Program (ODSP).                                               (SARAC). Despite having made four other, small changes to OW and ODSP rules,
                                                              the government has not taken steps to improve access to ODSP.

Enrich the Ontario Child             Increase the Ontario     Year One: The maximum benefit was raised to $1,100 a year (from $600) in July       ½
Benefit. Remove rules that claw      Child Benefit to a       2009, two years ahead of schedule. But social assistance benefits for people with
the OCB back from people on          maximum of $1,310        children were restructured downward once again.
social assistance.                   per child per year.      YEAR TWO: Budget 2010 reiterated the government’s commitment to raise the
                                                              maximum Ontario Child Benefit to $1,300 by 2013.

                                    Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                   13
FIVE TESTS FOR A                      POVERTY

Tighten the regulation of payday No commitment was               Year One: Bill 48, the Payday Loans Act was passed on June 9, 2008. Various        ½
lending and other financial      made.                           provisions of the Act came into effect on April 1 and July 1, 2009, tightening
services.                                                        regulations on payday lenders and setting a maximum total cost of borrowing cap
                                                                 for payday loan agreements in Ontario of $21 per $100 borrowed.
                                                                 YEAR TWO: Key parts of this Bill have yet to be enacted, including an Education
                                                                 Fund paid for by the industry to inform customers about their rights regarding
                                                                 Payday Loan services. A variety of enforcement mechanisms have also not yet
                                                                 been proclaimed.

Call on Ottawa to expand              Call on the federal        Year One: The Ontario government called on the federal government to expand EI ½
coverage of Employment                government to host a       coverage and enrich the CCTB when they released the Poverty Reduction Strategy
Insurance (EI) and enrich the         summit to discuss          and again when the 2009 provincial budget was released.
Canada Child Tax Benefit.             Employment Insurance       YEAR TWO: The province continues to call for better Federal Employment
                                      modernization.             Insurance coverage to assist Ontarians impacted by the recession. The Canada
                                                                 Child Tax Benefit has currently reached its maximum of $3,416 per child and the
                                                                 federal government has made no commitment to increase it.

                                      Develop and           Year One: No action to date.                                                            
                                      implement a           YEAR TWO: The government has not yet announced a Sustainable Procurement
                                      Sustainable           Strategy.
                                      Procurement Strategy.
                                      Develop a Social           Year One: No action to date.                                                       
                                      Venture Capital Fund.      YEAR TWO: The government has not yet announced a Social Venture Capital

                                      Encourage social       Year One: Government has funded research by Social Innovation Generation at            ½
                                      investment, innovation MaRS on social venture financing.
                                      and collaboration.     YEAR TWO: No information is available on further work in this area.
Strong and Supportive Communities
Make housing easier to afford.        Stabilize the Provincial   Year One: Budget 2009 allocated $5 million a year, beginning in 2009-2010 for       !
Build it to suit to people’s need.    Rent Bank Program          municipal rent bank programs, designed to help tenants pay arrears and avoid
Keep it in good repair.               with dedicated annual      homelessness. The program is administered sometimes as a loan, sometimes as a
                                      funding of $5 million.     grant, depending on the municipality.
                                                                 YEAR TWO: While $5 million has been annualized for rent banks, housing
                                                                 advocates report that this program is oversubscribed in many locations across the
                                                                 province, with some municipalities running out of funds. In some municipalities, OW
                                                                 and ODSP recipients and people in subsidized housing are not eligible for this

                                     Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                   14
Keep it in good repair.

FIVE TESTS FOR A                 POVERTY

                                 Institute a new 10-year,   Year One: The infrastructure plan has not been released.                               ½
                                 $60 billion                YEAR TWO: The government has been working on its Long Term Affordable
                                 infrastructure plan,       Housing Strategy since early 2009, which is one part of the infrastructure plan.
                                 including social           Earlier this year, government’s announcement of its affordable housing strategy
                                 housing, in 2009.          was postponed until the fall. We are still awaiting this critical announcement.
                                                            The Housing Network of Ontario, a partner organization of 25 in 5, has stated that
                                                            the government should meet a series of 5 Tests in order to create a truly
                                                            comprehensive strategy. Doing so would ensure an affordable, accessible,
                                                            inclusive and sustainable plan. See the Housing Network of Ontario’s website for
                                                            more information about the 5 Tests at

                                                            Energy poverty has become an increasingly pressing issue with the addition of the ½
                                                            HST to monthly energy bills, a $5 monthly charge for smart meters and a new
                                                            Green Energy fee, and the hydro debt retirement surcharge. Rising energy costs
                                                            have an impact on all Ontarians, but low-income households are hit hardest.
                                                            The Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) indicates that there has been recent
                                                            movement in the following areas:
                                                            • The government’s Energy Consumer Protection Act includes provisions around
                                                                smart metering – now called “suite metering” – that will prevent landlords from
                                                                imposing meters on individual tenants without their consent. If a tenant agrees
                                                                to a suite meter, the legislation requires that their rent be reduced by an amount
                                                                that will cover the electricity cost and any other charges associated with the
                                                            • The Act also puts in place new rules to restrict and regulate the activities of
                                                                energy retailers across Ontario, including a “cooling off” period during which
                                                                consumers can change their minds about energy contracts.
                                                            • The new Northern Ontario Energy Credit, introduced in Budget 2010, is a
                                                                refundable tax credit that will help low- to middle-income people in the north to
                                                                afford their energy costs. This is a small step on the road to permanent energy
                                                                cost assistance for all low-income Ontarians.
                                                            • The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is developing new province-wide electricity
                                                                conservation initiatives for low-income consumers.
                                                            • The Ontario Energy Board’s (OEB) Low-Income Energy Assistance Program
                                                                (LEAP) includes provisions to help low-income Ontarians better manage their
                                                                electricity and natural gas bills.
                                                            LIEN continues to work toward making energy more affordable for low-income
                                                            consumers, and to propose and promote practical programs and solutions that can
                                                            be implemented. More information is available at

Make early learning and child    Implement full-day         Year One: On October 27, the government announced the phase-in of full-day             ½
care both universal and          learning for four- and     junior and senior kindergarten for four and five year olds starting September 2010
affordable.                      five-year olds.            with the goal of full implementation across Ontario by 2015. Part of the first phase
                                                            of implementation will be focused on low-income neighbourhoods.
                                                            YEAR TWO:
                                                            Nearly 600 schools offer full day JK-SK in 2010. That number is scheduled to rise
                                                            to nearly 800 schools in 2011.
                                                            In Budget 2010, the government announced a permanent $63 million annual
                                                            investment in child care subsidies to replace federal funding that had expired.

                                Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                       15
 Build a public education    Triple the number of         Year One: The Ministry of Education reports that there are 144 Parent and Family ½
 system that focuses on      Parenting and Family         Literacy Centres across Ontario as of November 2009.
 equitable outcomes.         Literacy Centres to          YEAR TWO: The Ministry of Education reports that there are currently 145 Parent
                             300.                         and Family Literacy Centres across Ontario. In addition, the government reports
                                                          that work has started to develop Best Start Child and Family Learning Centres as a
                                                          single point of integrated service for children aged 0-12 and their families, as
                                                          recommended in the Pascal Report on early learning and child care.

                             Invest $10 million           Year One: Launch of the program was announced October 9, 2009, with the aim of ½
                             annually in an After         having programs in 270 locations and to reach 15,500 children and youth.
                             School Program to            YEAR TWO: The government reports that the program is being offered by 100
                             support children in high     organization at more than 300 locations, serving 18,000 children. Plans are
                             needs neighbourhoods         underway to expand the program to First Nations on reserve in fall 2010.
                             with new after-school
                             programs and new             Education advocates note that while this annualized funding is extremely important,
                             initiatives focused on       all of the real costs of these programs are not fully covered. Many after school
                             physical activity and        programs are funded in conjunction with external sources, such as community
                             wellness.                    foundations. Such fractured funding means that these programs may not be
                                                          sustainable in the long term.

                             Focus a portion of the       Year One: No action to date.                                                             ½
                             Learning Opportunities       YEAR TWO: The government reports that the funding formula for Learning
                             Grant on helping low-        Opportunities Grants has been adjusted so that low income status is given more
                             income students who          weight. Funds are provided to those school boards which, based on five social and
                             need it most.                economic indicators, have a higher risk of academic difficulty. The five indicators
                                                          are low income status, Aboriginal ancestry, low parental education, lone parent
                                                          families and recent immigrants.
                                                          Education advocates note that transparency in the use of these funds by school
                                                          boards and the complexity of their administration is a problem. It is difficult to track
                                                          how these funds are used, which may indicate that some school boards use this
                                                          grant to meet current budget needs rather than to fund new programming to assist
                                                          the neediest students. Advocates recommend that the Ministry of Education
                                                          develop a new grant for equity, with tighter guidelines for use to ensure the needs
                                                          of the most vulnerable students are met. In addition, no additional funds have been
                                                          invested in the Learning Opportunities Grant to meet the need in schools.

                             Encourage school             Year One: No action to date.                                                        ½
                             boards to ensure that        YEAR TWO: In November 2009, a Draft Access to School Activity Fees guideline
                             all students can             was circulated to Ontario’s school boards for consultation. The Guideline sets out
                             participate in class         “guiding principles and best practices” for boards to use when developing or
                             activities, not just those   reviewing existing policies, and provides “examples of appropriate and
                             who can afford it.           inappropriate practices”.
                                                          Advocates note that, while these guidelines have been distributed, the actual
                                                          practice of charging fees continues due to chronic lack of basic funding for school
                                                          budget needs. In addition, these guidelines do not advocate fee removal, but rather
                                                          more transparency in their application.
                                                          In addition, People for Education has expressed a concern about equity, noting that
                                                          increased reliance on school-generated funds will inevitably lead to a system of
                                                          “have” and “have not” schools – a form of exclusion or built-in inequity. See
                                                 for more information.

                            Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                          16

                              Re-focus a portion of    Year One: No public information is available on the status of this commitment.    ½
                              the Parents Reaching     YEAR TWO: Approvals for Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grant applications from
                              Out Grants’ funding to   Priority Schools have increased by 25% over last year. Since the 2008/09 school
                              better help parents in   year, there has been a 354% increase in approvals for PRO Grant applications
                              higher-need areas        from Priority Schools.
                              participate in their
                              child’s education.

Fund vibrant community-based More than double          Year One: Budget 2009 provided more than $35 million over two years, including  ˜
programs that connect and    funding for the Youth     more than $12 million annually on an ongoing basis, to enhance the Youth
enrich us.                   Opportunities Strategy    Opportunities Strategy.
                             to over $22 million       YEAR TWO: Total investment in 2010 was $24 million. The government reports that
                             annually.                 the program, which provides youth with summer jobs, is now operating in 32
                                                       communities across the province.

                              Invest $5 million        Year One: No action to date.                                                      š
                              annually in a            YEAR TWO: No progress to report.
                              Opportunities Fund to

                              Invest $7 million        Year One: Budget 2009 allocated $3 million for 2009-2010 to establish Community ½
                              annually in the          Hubs in selected low-income neighbourhoods.
                              development of a         YEAR TWO: The Ministry of Education has released a Facility Partnerships
                              Community Hub            Guideline for all Ontario school boards to encourage better use of school board
                              Program, using           facilities by community partners.
                              schools as hubs that
                              respond to community     Education advocates say that while this guideline has been issued, no priority is
                              needs related to         given to not-for-profit organizations so the practice of issuing permits to
                              poverty reduction and    organizations which can best pay for space continues. In addition, school boards
                              student achievement.     continue to be under tremendous pressure to close schools with declining
                                                       enrolment without first looking at using these schools as Community Hubs.
                                                       They report that the Community Hub Program budget for 2010-11 has not yet been
                                                       Advocates also report that the Priority School Initiative, which provides free access
                                                       for community organizations to use 125 designated Priority Schools, is generally
                                                       working well. Each Priority School is given $34,000 to offset the costs associated
                                                       with providing free community use.
                                                       In another initiative to provide local services through a community hub structure,
                                                       the Ontario government has partnered with the federal government and private-
                                                       sector donors to fund United Way of Toronto’s Building Strong Neighbourhoods
                                                       Strategy, which will build community hubs in eight of Toronto’s 13 priority
                                                       neighbourhoods. The first three of these community hubs opened in 2010, and will
                                                       create accessible community space while bringing together health and social
                                                       services in one location.

                            Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                  17

                     Enhance the Crown          Year One: On November 12, 2009 the government announced that 7 new Crown               ½
                     Wards success              Ward Education Championship Teams will offer mentorship, peer support,
                     strategy with the goal     motivation, and guidance to Crown wards across the province. This doubles the
                     of improving               number of teams in Ontario to fourteen.
                     educational outcomes       YEAR TWO: Advocates report that, so far, no movement has been made on the
                     and smoothing their        $19 million annual investment in the Crown Wards Success Strategy. The Ontario
                     transition to adulthood.   Association of Children's Aid Societies has been actively lobbying the government
                     Invest $19 million more    since December 2008 for:
                     annually to support
                     these kids as they          • legislative change to increase the age of a child in need of protection to 18, as
                     leave care and make            is the case in other provinces (currently protection only lasts up to the last day
                     the transition to              of their 15th year – i.e., under 16);
                     independence.               • legislative change to increase the age that young people can receive care to 24
                                                    or 25, in keeping with societal norms;
                                                 • policy change so that youth can stay in family-based care until 21, rather than
                                                    having to leave prior to turning 18;
                                                 • extended health and dental benefits and Employment Assistance Plan-type
                                                    supports for youth up to the age of 25. Many youth suffer clinical depression
                                                    and other health/mental health issues and lose all supports – emotional,
                                                    financial, as well as medication – on their 21st birthday.
                                                The Crown Ward Education Championship Teams initiative was originally
                                                announced in 2007 – in advance of the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

                     Target a portion of the    On February 24, 2009 the government announced that the all-party Select               ½
                     Mental Health and          Committee on Mental Health and Addictions will give input to the government’s
                     Addictions Strategy to     long-term Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, including a focus on children and
                     low-income youth who       young adults.
                     have severe mental         YEAR TWO: The all-party Select Committee reported in August 2010. Its primary
                     illness and/or             recommendation was to create a new umbrella organization – Mental Health and
                     substance addictions.      Addictions Ontario – to serve as a single body responsible for designing,
                                                managing, and coordinating the mental health and addictions system and to ensure
                                                consistent and comprehensive program and service delivery across the province.
                                                MHAO would report to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and all mental
                                                health and addictions services – including those for children and youth – would
                                                therefore be consolidated in that ministry. The Committee also recommended:
                                                  • Developing a wait-time strategy “for underserved populations and conditions,
                                                      specifically, but not limited to, children and those with severe and persistent
                                                  • Conducting “an assessment of the need for acute care psychiatric beds for
                                                      both children and adults by region”;
                                                  • Ensuring that “primary care providers and relevant staff in all levels of the
                                                      education and long-term care systems have access to common, age-
                                                      appropriate, evidence-based assessment and screening tools”
                                                  • Creating additional Youth Mental Health courts to serve all regions of Ontario.
                                                The report of the Select Committee was warmly received by the government. No
                                                action has yet been taken on the Committee’s recommendations.

                     Develop culturally      Year One: No action to date.                                                             š
                     sensitive programs in YEAR TWO: No information is available on work in this area.
                     communities with
                     Aboriginal populations.

                 Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                          18
FIVE TESTS FOR A                     POVERTY

Support public and community No commitment was                 Year One: Capital investments and gas tax transfers have been made, but no         š
transit. Improve access. Make it made.                         sustained operating funding has been provided to address access and affordability.
affordable.                                                    YEAR TWO: No specific commitments for public transit were made in the context of
                                                               the poverty reduction strategy.

Table legislation that brings the    Introduce legislation in Year One: The Poverty Reduction Act (Bill 152) was passed into law with all-party    ˜
plan into law and invites all        spring 2009 to           support on May 6, 2009.
parties to support Ontario’s         enshrine an ongoing      The legislation was unanimously adopted by all parties in the Ontario legislature.
poverty reduction strategy.          commitment to a long-
                                     term strategy.
Carry on the work of the             Create a Cabinet-level    Year One: In January 2009, a Results Team was created to oversee the                ˜
Cabinet Committee on Poverty         committee tasked with     implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy and recommendations from the
Reduction and create a Poverty       implementing the          Roots of Youth Violence report. The Results Team is chaired by the Minister of
Reduction Secretariat that is        Poverty Reduction         Children and Youth Services, includes members of Cabinet, MPPs and advisors,
responsible for bringing together    Strategy and supported    and receives staff support. No dedicated secretariat has been confirmed.
various Senior Ministers, driving    by a dedicated            YEAR TWO: The government reports that the Results Team meets monthly. It is
implementation, and tracking         secretariat. This team    chaired by the Minister of Children and Youth Services and is comprised of
progress.                            will seek advice from     members of Cabinet, MPPs, and external advisors. The ministers involved are:
                                     external experts and      Education; Training, Colleges and Universities, Community and Social Services,
                                     will be responsible for   Health, and the Minister Responsible for Seniors. Mark Chamberlain (former chair
                                     overseeing:               of the Hamilton Poverty Reduction Roundtable) and Michael Mendelson (of the
                                     § implementing           Caledon Institute) are the external advisors.
                                     § annual reporting on
                                          progress; and
                                     § ongoing
                                          consultations with
                                          key stakeholders
                                          and the public.

Annual public reporting on           Report back every year    Year One: The Poverty Reduction Act stipulates that the Annual Report be tabled     ˜
progress.                            to Ontarians on the       no later than March 31, 2010 and each subsequent year. The government is
                                     indicators of             expected to report in December 2009.
                                     opportunity.              YEAR TWO: The government tabled its first year report in December 2009, and is
                                                               expected to report again in December 2010.

Create an Advisory Committee No commitment was                 Year One: The government made no commitment to an Advisory Committee on             š
that includes grassroots leaders, made.                        poverty reduction either in the Poverty Reduction Strategy or in the Poverty
experts, and people living in low                              Reduction Act.
income.                                                        YEAR TWO: 25 in 5 continues to call for a community-based and inclusively
                                                               representative Advisory Committee to be established.

                                    Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                   19

Commit to ongoing public    Engage people in their   Year One: The Poverty Reduction Act requires the Minister to undertake public         ½
consultation as the plan    communities at the       consultations as part of the process for creating a new poverty reduction strategy at
unfolds.                    halfway point of the     least every five years. The halfway point of the current strategy, when public
                            five year target to      consultation should take place, is early in 2011.
                            make sure the plan is    YEAR TWO: The halfway point of the current strategy, when public consultation
                            on track.                should take place, is early in 2011. 25 in 5 expects the government will begin these
                                                     public consultations soon.

                            Create an                Year One: No action to date.                                                         š
                            independent Social       YEAR TWO: No progress to report thus far.
                            Policy Institute to
                            § Evaluate social
                               policy, including
                            § Identify best
                               practices in other
                               jurisdictions for use
                               in Ontario; and
                            § Work with
                               international experts
                               to develop
                               roadmaps for
                               Ontario in specific
                               areas of competitive
                               strength, social
                               policy and economic

                           Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                    20
FIVE TESTS FOR A                 POVERTY

Make significant commitments to Budget 2009                Year One: Acceleration of the Ontario Child Benefit, which came into effect in July ½
poverty reduction in provincial § accelerated             2009, was an important policy both for poverty reduction and economic stimulus,
budgets.                           increases to the        putting an additional $400 million a year into the hands of families struggling to get
                                   Ontario Child           by. However, social assistance rates were once again adjusted downwards for
                                   Benefit;                families with children.
                                § increased the           The indexed, refundable property and sales tax credit increases come into effect in
                                   refundable property     January 2010, offsetting additional HST costs for low income households.
                                   and sales tax           Budget 2009 included the promised funding to stabilize the Rent Bank Program. In
                                   credits;                addition, it designated $700 million over two years to rehabilitate social housing
                                § invested $700           and make it more energy efficient; $360 million to build new affordable housing for
                                   million over two        low-income seniors and persons with disabilities; and $175 million over two years
                                   years for social        to extend the Canada–Ontario Affordable Housing Program. While the government
                                   housing                 of Ontario has matched federal housing dollars, this is in the context of a multi-year
                                   rehabilitation; $360    decrease in funds for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
                                   million to build        $4.5 million annually for employment standards enforcement represents 45% of the
                                   affordable housing      government’s commitment to invest $10 million a year.
                                   units for seniors and
                                   people with             The 2% increase in social assistance is effectively an adjustment for inflation. It
                                   disabilities; and,      would take a 55% increase in social assistance rates to re-establish the
                                   $175 million to         purchasing power they had in 1993.
                                   extend the Canada-
                                   Ontario Affordable
                                   Housing Program
                                § set aside $4.5
                                   million annually to
                                   hire employment
                                   enforcement officers
                                § increased social
                                   assistance rates by

                               Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                         21

                     Budget 2010                   YEAR TWO:                                                                               ½
                     • 1% increase to social       Government reiterated the commitment to increase the Ontario Child Benefit to
                       assistance;                 $1,310 per year by 2013.
                     • Announcement to             $8.5 million annually for employment standards enforcement is getting closer to
                       replace Special Diet        the government’s commitment to invest $10 million a year.
                       Allowance with
                       nutritional supplement      The 1% increase in social assistance in 2010 does not meet the increase in
                       program;                    inflation. The announcement that government will end the Special Diet Allowance
                     • $63 million annually to     could mean a significant decrease in incomes for people with therapeutic dietary
                       replace federal             needs.
                       childcare funding;          $63 million annually to replace federal childcare funding.
                     • An additional $6 million    Indexed, refundable property and sales tax credit increases come into effect in
                       over two years to
                                                   January 2010, offsetting additional HST costs for low income households.
                       increase the number of
                       employment standards        The increase to $10.25 per hour in the minimum wage meets the government’s
                       officers in the province;   commitment to date. No further increases have been scheduled.
                     • Ontario’s minimum           Changes in four rules of social assistance are a step in the right direction, but the
                       wage rose to $10.25         government’s Social Assistance Review Advisory Council’s further eight proposals
                       per hour on March 31,
                                                   remain outstanding.
                     • A new permanent,
                       refundable Ontario
                       Sales Tax Credit for
                       low- to middle-income
                       people of up to $260
                       annually for each adult
                       and each child,
                       benefiting about 3.1
                       million families and
                       single people;
                     • Four rule changes to
                       social assistance:
                     1. expanding the
                        exemption of small
                        payments and in-kind
                     2. shortening the
                        suspension periods for
                        non-compliance with
                     3. clarifying the rules for
                        disposing of assets in
                        relation to eligibility
                        (e.g., for persons
                        paying off a
                        government debt); and
                     4. changing the shelter
                        allowance calculation
                        for people who share
                        the cost of their

                 Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity                                              22
Building A Resilient Ontario: From Poverty Reduction to Economic Opportunity   23

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