Ontario’s new Poverty Reduction Strategy is focused on ending homelessness and providing a stable foundation to help people rise out of poverty. The strategy will invest in initiatives that are evidence-based and measurable, so that Ontario can track its progress and get the best possible results for people.
The strategy, Realizing Our Potential, recommits to reducing child poverty by 25 per cent. It will also help support those in poverty to access jobs, education and training opportunities, while continuing to maintain income security for vulnerable Ontarians.
New investments and initiatives include:
- $42 million for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, which enables local governments to develop homelessness programs tailored to their community’s unique needs, bringing the investment to a total of almost $294 million per year.
- Creating 1,000 new supportive housing spaces by allocating $16 million over three years to help Ontarians living with mental illness and addictions issues.
- Raising the maximum annual benefit for the Ontario Child Benefit — which supports about one million children in more than 500,000 low- to moderate-income families — to $1,310 per child as of July 2014. The province is indexing the benefit to inflation to help families keep up with the cost of living.
- Committing to provide health benefits for children and youth in low-income families to ensure they have access to services outside of publicly funded health care, such as prescription drugs, vision care and mental health services.
- $50 million over five years for a Local Poverty Reduction Fund designed to reward local solutions that demonstrate they are helping to lift people out of poverty.
The new strategy makes a strong commitment to funding programs based on evidence. To provide a better indication of where efforts are needed, and which investments are working, Ontario is creating new indicators to look at youth, long-term unemployment and certain vulnerable populations more closely.
The province will seek expert advice on how to measure the problem of homelessness and collect data to generate evidence-based solutions. The province will also evaluate the effectiveness of its programs more broadly to ensure dollars are spent where they have the greatest impact.
Reducing poverty and helping everyone realize their potential is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up by investing in people, building modern infrastructure and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate.
- The strategy builds on Breaking the Cycle, Ontario’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy, launched in 2008. The original strategy helped lift 47,000 children and families out of poverty in the first three years.
- Since 2003, Ontario has committed more than $4 billion to affordable housing initiatives.
- Ontario continues to call on the federal government to be a partner in its poverty reduction efforts. A strong federal partner is necessary as the province works toward meeting its poverty reduction goals.