More than a year into a recession that hit Ontario harder than most provinces, hundreds of thousands of working Ontarians have lost their jobs - either slipping into the ranks of the poor or hanging on by their fingernails. While some are scraping by with part-time and temporary work or self-employment, the majority is stuck on the sidelines, waiting for the full-time jobs that disappeared in the heat of recession. As Ontario focuses on economic recovery, the question of what our governments can do to lead the way is as relevant as ever In this month's Throne Speech, the government signalled its intention to "Open Ontario". The question is: Open Ontario for what? Unemployment? A weak economy? Lifelong poverty? Even before the recession added to our worries, Ontarians agreed that the ranks of the poor in this province were too high for comfort. In 2008, our provincial government promised leadership, committing to reduce poverty by 25 per cent by the year 2013.
25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction March 22: Ontario Budget March 25 1. Quote of the Week 2. Ontario Budget March 25: Open Ontario to Poverty Reduction 3. No Cuts to Child Care! 4. In Defense of Special Diet 5. You Are Invited to Budget Watch Quote of the Week: "Investing in families and communities must remain a priority in Thursday's budget if our province is to truly recover and prosper." Who said it? Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, writing in the Hamilton Spectator. Read the Hamilton Roundtable's op ed on expectations for the budget. Budget 2010 Must Link "Open Ontario" to Poverty Reduction More than a year into a recession that hit Ontario harder than most provinces, hundreds of thousands of working Ontarians have lost their jobs - either slipping into the ranks of the poor or hanging on by their fingernails. While some are scraping by with part-time and temporary work or self-employment, the majority is stuck on the sidelines, waiting for the full-time jobs that disappeared in the heat of recession. As Ontario focuses on economic recovery, the question of what our governments can do to lead the way is as relevant as ever In this month's Throne Speech, the government signalled its intention to "Open Ontario". The question is: Open Ontario for what? Unemployment? A weak economy? Lifelong poverty? Even before the recession added to our worries, Ontarians agreed that the ranks of the poor in this province were too high for comfort. In 2008, our provincial government promised leadership, committing to reduce poverty by 25 per cent by the year 2013. That target is still achievable, but the provincial government needs to make progress on several strategic fronts this year that will also do double-duty to put Ontario on a stronger footing for economic recovery. Income security. Affordable Housing. Early learning and child care. Good jobs. A strong equity agenda. Now is not the time to turn our backs on poor Ontarians. Right now, their health is deteriorating. Their dreams of escaping poverty are fading. We are at risk of losing Ontario's vision where every person can be a full contributor to the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities. The future of too many Ontarians hangs in the balance. The strength of our economy awaits our government's leadership. This budget must Open Ontario to opportunities for all. Read 25 in 5's Pre-Budget Submission here. Read the Star's editorial - with comment on poverty reduction. Hey Premier! No Cuts to Child Care! Children and Parents Protest at Queen's Park 25 in 5 Network partner the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) is working hard to ensure that the alarm is raised on the dire shortfall of funds facing Ontario's child care system. Four years ago in 2006, the McGuinty government took a one-time federal payment, spread it out over four years, and included that funding in Ontario's core child care budget. But now the money is all used up! The McGuinty government has had four years to plan for this situation - but so far, there is no indication that the government intends to ensure this funding continues. Funding child care is a provincial responsibility. If Ontario does not replace this funding in the 2010 budget, municipalities across Ontario will have no option but to make dramatic cuts to child care subsidies. Over 7,600 subsidies could be lost across Ontario. And low income families will be hurt the most. But the ripple effect of such drastic cuts will lead to a catastrophic collapse of our fragile child care system. Whether parents pay full fees or have a subsidy, everyone will be affected. Children and parents who rely on quality child care programs went to Queen's Park on March 19 to call on the Premier not to cut child care investments in the up-coming provincial budget. At stake is $63.5 million for 7600 subsidies that help families access affordable child care in Ontario. And a campaign is being waged to raise public awareness of the impact the cut will have on families and child care centres across the province. "Parents rely on subsidies to work and retrain and child care centres need them to remain viable. We cannot fathom why the government would consider eliminating an investment that keeps on giving," said Andrea Calver, OCBCC Coordinator. Read 25 in 5's letter to the Premier and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan urging funding for child care in the upcoming budget. Read the Star editorial on politicians dropping the ball on child care. Read this article by Cathy Crowe on the $63.5 million question. Go to the OCBCC's website for more information. In Defense of Special Diet Recently, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that the way the province's Special Diet Allowance Program provides benefits is discriminatory. It ordered government to increase benefit amounts for three people involved in the ruling - and any other Special Diet recipients with the same medical conditions. It also set out the legal test that will help determine the outcome of nearly 200 human rights complaints yet to be heard. After this ruling - on two separate occasions in Question Period - Minister of Community and Social Services, Madeleine Meilleur, refused to deny rumours that government is considering eliminating the program in the March 25 provincial budget. The 25 in 5 Network has taken action. A lobbying campaign spearheaded by 25 in 5 and the ODSP Action Coalition has resulted in countless letters and emails to Ministers Meilleur, Duncan, and Broten, and to Premier McGuinty calling on them to ensure that the Special Diet Program is maintained and strengthened. And 25 in 5 partners, including the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the ODSP Action Coalition, the Association of Ontario Health Centres, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, and others have done work to highlight this issue in the media. 25 in 5 - and poverty activists across the province - will be watching on Budget Day. Eliminating this important program is simply not an option. Read 25 in 5's letter to Minister Meilleur, Minister Duncan, Minister Broten, and Premier McGuinty. Use the RNAO's Action Alert to send a message to the politicians! Read the lead editorial in the Toronto Star on March 16. Read the Op Ed from 25 in 5, the AOHC, and the ODSP Action Coalition on March 20. Read the Income Security Advocacy Centre's press release on this issue. Read ISAC's backgrounder for more information. Read this recent Toronto Star article about the Tribunal's decision. Join us for Budget Watch! The 2010 Budget is Thursday. What will Dwight Duncan do? Will we see investments that will do the double-duty work of reducing poverty and stimulating the economy? Investments in areas that will stimulate good jobs, save child care spaces, improve access to affordable housing and training, and introduce social assistance reforms that enable dignity and opportunity? Or will the government drop the ball, choosing to tackle the fiscal deficit instead of Ontario's growing social deficit? Join us on Thursday March 25 to find out. 25 in 5 is co-sponsoring Community Budget Watch for Children and Families. In conjunction with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care, Ontario Campaign 2000, Building Stronger Futures, Family Supports Institute of Ontario, and CUPE Ontario, 25 in 5 partners and community members will be watching the Budget speech live on TV, starting at 4pm. Everyone is invited to attend! Thursday March 25 @ 3:45 to 5:30 Toronto City Hall, Members Lounge, 100 Queen Street West Budget Starts at 4:00 p.m., Media Invited Questions? Please email email@example.com or call 416-538-0628 About the 25 in 5 eBulletins The 25 in 5 Network is steered by a coalition of Ontario organizations including Campaign 2000, The Income Security Advocacy Centre, The Social Planning Network of Ontario, The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, The Colour of Poverty Project, the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice, Voices From the Street, among others. This is a bulletin from 25 in 5 to its contact list of supporters and interested parties across the province. The Bulletin is intended to keep you up to date on the implementation of a poverty reduction plan for Ontario and to let you know how you, your organizations and networks can help make it happen. For more information visit www.25in5.ca Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Click here to sign up for this e-Bulletin.
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