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Strengthening Families for Ontario’s Future – 2012 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario

February 2013

Policy decisions driven by austerity in the 2012 Ontario budget made survival even more difficult for the over 383,000 children living in poverty with their families. A focus on deficit reduction in Budget 2012 derailed effective anti-poverty measures that reduced the overall child poverty rate in Ontario from 2008-10. Abandoning poverty reduction in 2013 will widen the already staggering income gap dividing children growing up in low income and children from wealthier families. The most recent data shows that, on average, Ontario’s highest income earners make 12.5 times more than the lowest.

Income inequality has worsened for over a generation, robbing many low-income children and families of the hope and stability known by some members of older generations. Child poverty is worse among those who are historically disadvantaged because they are racialized, immigrant, Indigenous1, have a disability or live in a female-led lone parent family. Living in poverty compromises children’s health, educational attainment and overall well-being. It also compromises Ontario’s economic potential, as limited opportunity means the skills and talents of low-income people are under-utilized.
Ontario’s government has the legislated responsibility to address poverty through 2009’s Poverty Reduction Act and has set the goal of reducing child poverty in Ontario by 25% by the end of 2013. In the 2013 budget, Ontario can reduce child poverty and income inequality through policies that have been proven to be practical and effective.

Ontario Campaign 2000 urges the Ontario government to raise the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) to the promised 1310/child/year by July 2013, and to index it to inflation, in order to ensure families can afford necessities like food, clothing and transportation. Ontario can make paid work a pathway out of poverty for low-income families, starting with a 2013 increase to the minimum wage to $14/hour. Providing high quality, accessible child care for children, particularly those 0-6 years old, can allow parents, especially mothers, to access employment or training. Increasing dismal social assistance rates and ending punitive rules that perpetuate poverty will stop punishing families and will support children’s healthy development.

Action against income inequality can reduce poverty in Ontario and contribute to a stronger, prosperous and more
equitable province, because strengthening families is what builds a better Ontario.

Download Strengthening Families for Ontario’s Future – 2012 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario

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