Ontario parties must work together to help ease child poverty: report

TORONTO – A new report says the province must work a lot harder if Ontario is to meet its target of cutting child poverty 25 per cent by 2013.

The report by the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction marks the third anniversary of the government’s promise to reduce child poverty by a quarter over five years.

It says there has been progress – but it urges all three parties to work together if 90,000 children are to be rescued from the grip of poverty by 2013.

The report says there is some common ground among the provincial parties, pointing to ideas like raising the Ontario Child Benefit.

Other common ideas include taking action on the minimum wage, introducing a new housing benefit and reforming social assistance.

The report finds that since the government made its promise in 2008, child poverty in Ontario has dropped slightly compared with provinces where no action was taken.

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But the report points out that adult poverty rates have increased.

“Given the slow recovery from the recession and growing income inequality, now is not the time for the provincial government to sit on its laurels,” said Mike Creek, a spokesman for Voices From the Street, who was chairman of the report.

“Targeted action is urgently needed, including expanding poverty reduction targets to include adults – especially singles – and addressing equity for groups more at risk of poverty, particularly at this time of fiscal restraint.”

Greg DeGroot-Maggetti of the Mennonite Central Committee said the fact that there is a minority government in Ontario should not stop it from taking action.

“The commitment to poverty reduction expressed across party lines during the election campaign shows that there is common political will to take action here,” he said.

The report is titled Common Ground: A Strategy for Moving Forward on Poverty Reduction.