Anti-poverty advocates expressed optimism that today’s budget renews Ontario’s commitment to reducing poverty and building a fairer and more prosperous province.
“Budget 2014 lays a foundation for the next Poverty Reduction Strategy, and we look forward to more detail in the coming days on the next five-year plan” said Greg deGroot-Maggetti, 25in5 spokesperson. “Now is the time for all parties to work together to reduce poverty and inequality and make a positive impact in the lives of thousands of Ontarians who struggle daily to make ends meet.”
The 25in5 Network for Poverty Reduction is encouraged to see that the budget proposes investments that will:
- Increase and index the Ontario Child Benefit and minimum wage to inflation
- Expand dental, drug, mental health and assistive devices coverage to low-income children
- Change Legal Aid eligibility so more Ontarians get access to justice
- Ensure those in greatest need of social assistance see an increase in their incomes
- Invest in Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative and match federal investments in affordable housing programs
- Ensure provincially-funded infrastructure projects provide job opportunities to at-risk youth and low income communities
- Increase wages for early childhood educators and personal support workers
However, the government can and should do more on child-care, affordable housing, social assistance benefits, expanding dental and health benefits to low income adults, and improving the quality of jobs in the labour market.
The Budget does propose small increases to personal income taxes for Ontarians making more than $150,000 a year. It also proposes restricting the Small Business Deduction to small businesses, closing a revenue gap that gave large Corporations an unfair tax break.
“We are glad to see these sensible tax changes that make our tax system fairer and take a step toward reducing income inequality,” said deGroot-Maggetti. “They will also help protect the revenue needed for a strong Poverty Reduction Strategy.”
The 25in5 Network also lauds the government for the creation of a new local Poverty Reduction Fund that would provide $50 million over five years to support local solutions to poverty.
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