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Leadership hopefuls pledge action against poverty

For immediate release

Toronto, Jan 22, 2013 – Liberal candidates vying to become Ontario’s next premier are committing to step up the province’s fight against poverty. Results from a questionnaire released today by the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction reveal that most candidates, including both front-runners, are pledging action on income security, affordable housing and good jobs.

“We are encouraged that poverty reduction has been front and centre in this leadership contest,” said Sarah Blackstock of YWCA Toronto. “The specific commitments made by the majority of candidates are crucial if we are going to continue to build on Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, including reducing child poverty by 25% by the end of 2013.”

In 2008 the Liberal government introduced Ontario’s groundbreaking Poverty Reduction Strategy aimed at reducing child and family poverty by 25% by the end of 2013. The 25 in 5 Network’s recent annual progress report on Ontario’s five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy showed that between 2008 and 2010 Ontario made a number of important investments that helped reduce child poverty by more than 6%, lifting 29,000 children and their families out of poverty. However, the report also points out that the recent scaling back of investments, such as the slowed implementation of the Ontario Child Benefit, threatens to undermine progress and drive more Ontarians further into poverty.

As part of ongoing engagement with all parties, the 25 in 5 Network asked all Liberal leaderships candidates what they would each do to advance a poverty reduction strategy in Ontario, including meeting the 2013 commitment.

The candidates’ answers revealed that the majority see the development and implementation of Ontario’s next poverty reduction strategy as a priority.

The two front-runners – Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello – both made significant commitments in the areas of income security, welfare reform, and affordable housing. Eric Hoskins and Gerard Kennedy stood out as the candidates with the most comprehensive approaches to poverty reduction, vowing to increase minimum wage, reform social assistance and increase access to affordable housing. Charles Sousa also prioritized poverty reduction as part of his platform.

“We have seen how strong leadership and government action can and does reduce poverty,” said Kaylie Tiessen of the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario. “It is crucial that the next Premier makes the fight against poverty a priority, beginning with the next budget. The 25 in 5 Network will be meeting with all parties to provide our input to that budget.”

The candidate questionnaire results are available at: http://25in5.ca/?attachment_id=1022

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For more information, contact:

Sarah Blackstock, Director of Advocacy & Communications, YWCA Toronto

Phone: 416.961.8101 x 350 | Mobile 416.892.6845

The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction is a non-partisan, multisectoral network comprised of more than 100 provincial and Toronto based organizations and individuals working on eliminating poverty in Ontario. For more information and to read the 25 in 5 Progress Report, visit www.25in5.ca.

NT4