An archive of Community Development Halton media releases dating back to 1999.
Burlington, March 27, 2009 - Community Development Halton (CDH) is deeply concerned about the Ontario Government's plans for harmonizing the Provincial Sales Tax and the Federal Goods and Services Tax. People on social assistance cannot afford to lose ground as cash is taken out of their pockets for increased taxes on things like gas, electricity, and transportation leaving them with less for food and other necessities.
CDH fears that the rebates and tax credits proposed in the budget to offset the increased taxes resulting from the harmonization scheme will not be sufficient to minimize the impact on low-income people.
Ted Hildebrandt, CDH's Director of Social Planning, stated,"I am not optimistic. My initial conclusion about harmonization is that it will take food off the table." For example:
Joey Edwardh, Executive Director of Community Development Halton said, "As the bills come in and the rent is due, money for food becomes discretionary. In our Halton communities, hunger and eating poorly creates a tragic situation which affects the long term health of people, the capacity of children to learn and lost economic productivity through disability and absenteeism."
CDH recognizes that the provincial budget does make provision for a 2% increase in social assistance rates but CDH points out that this increase does not move people on social assistance to Statistics Canada low-income cut off. It does not even keep pace with the rate of inflation for food. The Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) reports that the costs of a Nutritious Food Basket increased by 3.2% between 2006 and 2007.
CDH and other community leaders across Halton have promoted the introduction of a $100 monthly Healthy Food Supplement for adults on social assistance as a central part of a poverty reduction strategy. Regrettably, the 2009 provincial budget does not include this measure. As Hildebrandt emphasized, "The issue is having enough money on a monthly basis to afford the basic necessities of life including food and rent. More and more people in our Halton communities are making the connection between food, health and poverty."
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Burlington, December 10, 2008 - Local Halton groups are welcoming a recently released poverty reduction plan by the Government of Ontario. The report entitled, Breaking the Cycle, provides leadership both socially and economically and turns a corner on poverty. It breaks away from the past when governments could ignore and could even make political gains on the backs of the poor with cutbacks in social assistance and social support programs.
Across the province and in Halton, individuals and groups concerned about poverty have been supporting the plan of the 25-in-5 Network for Poverty Reduction to reduce poverty by 25% for all within five years and 50% over ten years.
"We called on the Government of Ontario to produce a plan with targets, timetables and accountabilities," said Dr. Joey Edwardh, Executive Director of Community Development Halton. "The plan released by the Government of Ontario is a key first step in improving the lives of Ontario's poor families and children, and commits to lifting 80,000 Ontario children out of poverty."
But she also stated that the plan does not go far enough to address those who are most at-risk of poverty, particularly seniors, newcomers, people with disabilities, members of racialized communities and those on social assistance. She said "more attention must be given to creating liveable incomes, early learning and childcare spaces and affordable housing."
The Burlington-Halton chapter of Make Poverty History is among those who are identifying the plan as a good foundation, but are pushing to see a good jobs strategy in which all people who work fulltime are ensured a standard of living out of poverty.
"Almost half of all Ontario families living in poverty have at least one parent working fulltime, year round," said John Versluis, who chairs the local group. "Hard working Ontarians who meet their responsibilities by working full time should not be forced to raise their families in poverty."
Anti-poverty activists are pleased that the Government plans to table legislation to have a dedicated secretariat to support the implementation of the poverty reduction plan and measure its success and failures. "We have a group in government with whom we can work to make this commitment to poverty reduction a reality," commented John Versluis.
"A recent poll by Environics Research Group showed that 81% of Ontarians support government action to reduce poverty - especially during hard economic times," added Dr. Edwardh. "It is critical that the Government of Ontario builds on this public support and makes an adequate down payment in their spring budget in order to meet their commitments and further strengthen their plan."
For local information on poverty reduction, visit Community Development Halton at www.cdhalton.ca. For more information on the 25-in-5 Network for poverty reduction, visit www.25in5.ca. You can also visit Poverty Watch Ontario at www.povertywatchontario.ca.
Burlington, November 21, 2008 - A new report from the Campaign 2000 coalition fighting child poverty states Ontario's child poverty remains high at 11.8% - that's 324,000 children.
In Halton, local Campaign 2000 partner Community Development Halton commented on the report.
"Here in Halton the latest information from the 2006 Census shows that our child poverty rate is 7.8%. Today we're in much more challenging economic times and we're concerned that child and family poverty in Halton will increase," said Dr. Joey Edwardh, Executive Director of Community Development Halton. "Residents of Halton are not immune to the job loss occurring in the financial and manufacturing sectors." She continued, "Unemployment, family separation and stress produces family and child poverty. Kids are poor because their parents are poor."
The Ontario Government has stated it will be announcing its Poverty Reduction Strategy in December, following extensive public consultation which included a meeting here in Oakville on June 27, 2008.
"We'll be looking closely at the Government's poverty reduction plan to see how it benefits people in Halton. At the community level there's a limit to how much we can do to solve poverty. Now, more than ever, we need the provincial and federal governments to step up to the plate with a solid plan and investments in the spring budget," said Dr. Edwardh.
Community Development Halton supports the recommendations of the 2008 Ontario Report Card on Child & Family Poverty from Campaign 2000. The report outlines five areas for the Ontario government to act: raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2011 with indexation and develop a Good Jobs Strategy; fix social assistance, increase and index rates to support people moving out of poverty; fund more affordable housing, child care spaces, and post-secondary education and training.
These measures should be part of a multi year Poverty Reduction Strategy with a target to cut poverty levels in Ontario by at least 25% over 5 years. This would mean lifting 80,000 children out of poverty across the province by 2012.
"We can and must reduce child and family poverty in our province. Quebec brought in a poverty reduction plan and cut their child poverty rate by 50% over ten years. If they can do it, Ontario can do it," said Dr. Edwardh.
Burlington, October 1, 2007 - Community Development Halton, as a member of the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO), welcomed Liberal Leader Dalton McGuintyï¿½s statement earlier today that, if elected, his party is committed to developing a poverty reduction strategy, with firm and measurable targets, within the first year of its term.
Over the past two weeks, Community Development Halton along with 10 other member organizations of the SPNO have held events in communities across Ontario, highlighting a strategy for poverty reduction in Ontario based on the concrete targets and timelines contained in the Campaign 2000 National Poverty Reduction Strategy Summoned to Stewardship released on September 11. The national report's author, Professor Marvyn Novick, spoke in Burlington last week, emphasizing that the costs of poverty to the health care, education, social service and criminal justice systems far outweigh the cost of eradicating poverty itself, and that concrete targets and timelines are essential for making real progress. Professor Novick cited as an example the radical decline in child poverty rates in the United Kingdom, after then Prime Minister Tony Blair adopted measurable targets and goals in addressing the issue.
In receiving the news of the Liberal announcement, Community Development Haltonï¿½s Executive Director, Dr. Joey Edwardh, commented:
"Poverty is a concern to Ontarians in all parts of the province. It exists in Halton and adversely affects the opportunities of children, of newcomers, people with disabilities and seniors. They have much to contribute and it is time to include them. A poverty reduction strategy with specific targets and timelines is a demonstrated way of building a community for all."
For more information, contact:
Joey Edwardh, Ph.D.