Help our Community Reduce Poverty

By Aaron Berhane October 28, 2008 Over a million Ontarians live below the poverty line. Many members of our community belong in this category. They st...

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By Aaron Berhane
October 28, 2008

Over a million Ontarians live below the poverty line. Many members of our community belong in this category. They struggle to prioritize their purchases just to survive. Sometimes, they have to make hard choices —should they buy food or pay the rent?; pay the hydro or water bill? With the current economic crisis, their situation will definitely get worse. However, if Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty lives up to his promise, we can expect things to get better.

Dalton McGuinty promised that reducing poverty would be the priority for his government. However, due to the economic challenges we are facing and the $500-million deficit, McGuinty may change his mind. Advocates for the poor are trying to make sure that McGuinty keeps his word by setting down five ‘evaluations’.

Reducing poverty needs a strong commitment—by at least 25 per cent in five years, advocates say. To ensure accountability, it should be legislated; the government must include a down payment for the plan during the next spring budget. The minimum wage should be increased; benefits must rise to help those who’re not working; Supportive communities must be created to make housing, transit and child care affordable.

“Government must lead,” says Pat Caponi, a member of the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction. “They must find some of the courage that the homeless, the poor, the newcomer must steel themselves with every day of their lives—the courage to go on in the face of adversity so great, it seems almost impossible to overcome.”

Undeniably, the province is in a much harder financial situation today. Nevertheless, Deb Matthews, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, has assured us that reducing poverty will remain a high priority for the Ontario government. But we will need to knock on our MPPs’ doors to make sure they will keep their promise. We’re also obliged to support the cause of advocates who are trying to reduce poverty in our community.

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