My favourite memory of Summer 2013 has come courtesy of none other than Statistics Canada. In late June, they released new household income figures showing that child poverty in Ontario dropped for a third consecutive year, down to 13.8%.
The fact that life is improving for tens of thousands of children and families is good news. But what makes this even more noteworthy is that it took place despite one of the worst economic downturns in memory—in large part thanks to Ontario’s first-ever poverty reduction strategy.
United Way Toronto has been an active supporter of the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction, a group of organizations that first joined together in 2007 to push for this province-wide strategy.
Through significant investments in child benefits and early learning education, increases to minimum wage and employment protections for the precariously employed, we’ve seen progress in social conditions for some of the most vulnerable in our communities.
It is clear that poverty reduction programs are key to promoting a healthier population and safer communities. We also know that it is more effective to invest in long term preventive strategies rather than focusing on Band-Aid solutions.
There is a great opportunity before us to build on what we have learned and to make the next five years really count for poverty reduction, for everyone in Ontario.
Thanks to provincial legislation backed by all three parties, Ontario is now required to renew its poverty reduction strategy and set new targets every five years. This summer, the province launched a round of public consultations that will continue into the early fall.
Today, there is much excitement about the potential of a provincial strategy that builds on progress, sets bold targets for children and adults, and has a comprehensive action agenda based on strong policy measures and investments that lead to impact.
United Way will continue to do our part to rally every sector of our city in common cause for building strong communities where everyone can contribute to our economic prosperity.
More information about how to participate, including an online survey, is available here. I encourage you to add your voice to the conversation and influence the next strategy.
Also make sure to check out the 25 in5 Network’s Five Priorities for Ontario’s next Poverty Reduction Strategy and help spread the word about this opportunity to make a difference.