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Campaign 2000 Releases New Report on Child Poverty in Ontario

by NationTalk on April 2, 2008375 Views

Toronto, 2 Apr 08

Toronto – A new report from the anti-poverty coalition Ontario Campaign 2000 finds that 1 in every 8 children in Ontario is living in poverty, according to Statistics Canada data. In a time of low unemployment, the 2007 Report Card on Child & Family Poverty in Ontario confirms that the solution to family poverty is not as simple as getting a job. Seventy per cent of all low-income children in Ontario live in families where at least one parent is working part-time or full-time, yet they are not able to earn enough to lift family income above the poverty line.“Campaign 2000 calls on the Ontario government to set its target to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 25% within 5 years, and 50% within 10 years,” said Jacquie Maund, Coordinator of Ontario Campaign 2000. “Quebec has been able to reduce its child poverty rate by more than 50% over 8 years – if they can, we can too.”

The report notes that living on social assistance is a guarantee of poverty for Ontario children. Parents who are unable to be in the workforce and rely on social assistance struggle on welfare benefits that are as low now as they were in 1967. The majority of Ontario children receiving social assistance benefits (67 per cent) are in lone-mother led families.

“Our teachers see the effects of child poverty in classrooms across Ontario,” said David Clegg, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. “Children who can’t concentrate because they haven’t had breakfast, children who don’t have winter boots and who are left out of field trips and extra curricular activities because their parents can’t afford it. We’re very pleased that the Ontario Government has promised to develop a Poverty Reduction Strategy and we encourage everyone who is concerned about poverty in our communities to get involved in upcoming public consultations.”

“Full-time, full-year work should be a guarantee out of poverty. Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy should ensure this. Campaign 2000 calls for a minimum wage of $10.25/hour with indexation, work tax credits for low-wage workers, updated labour legislation that protects contract and temp workers, and a Good Jobs Strategy for Ontario,” said Greg deGroot-Maggetti with the Mennonite Central Committee, and a co-author of the report.

“The Ontario Government needs to close the poverty gap for families struggling on social assistance by significantly increasing incomes and permanently indexing benefit rates to inflation, as well as fixing punitive rules that trap families in a cycle of dependency and strip away their dignity,” commented Jennefer Laidley, Research Analyst with the Income Security Advocacy Centre.

“In addition to ensuring good jobs at living wages and a stronger social safety net, the Ontario strategy needs significant public investment in the construction of affordable housing, expansion of the regulated child care system, and in education and training opportunities – all key pathways out of poverty for low income families,” Ms. Maund added.

The report, entitled “The Road Ahead: Poverty Reduction in Ontario,” includes the following findings:
 The provincial child poverty rate is 12.6%, or 345,000 children (2005 Statistics Canada data, based on after tax income). The rate declined slightly from 2004 to 2005, but has been on an upward trend since 2001.
 Ontario’s child poverty rate is the 4th highest in Canada. 44% of all low income children in Canada live in Ontario.
 Poverty rates for children in Aboriginal, racialized, new immigrant and lone mother-led families are at least double the provincial rate.
 67% of all children relying on social assistance are in lone-mother-led families. In 2007, a single mother with one young child on social assistance had a family income that was at least $5,357 below the poverty line.
 Full-time, full-year work at Ontario’s new minimum wage of $8.75/hour generates earnings that are approximately $3,000 below the poverty line.

See www.campaign2000.ca for a full copy of the 2007 Ontario Report Card on Child & Family Poverty.
Ontario Campaign 2000 is a non partisan coalition of 66 organizations across the province committed to ending child & family poverty in Canada.

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For further comment please contact:
Jacquie Maund, Ontario Coordinator, Campaign 2000.Tel: 416-595-9230 x 241 (or x244)
Greg deGroot Maggetti, Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario. Tel 519-745-8458 (Kitchener)
David Clegg, President, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario. Tel.416-962-3836

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