September 3rd, 2014

Reality Check: Liberals fail to cut child poverty by 25 percent in five years

Six years after promising to cut child poverty by 25 percent, the Liberal government has failed to meet that target.

Here are the facts on the Liberal record:

Fact: The Liberal government has failed to reduce poverty by 25 percent over five years. The government’s own annual update acknowledges that further investments “would have brought us closer to achieving our target.”

Fact: Child poverty is actually increasing in Toronto. New data shows that more than 145,000 children – or 29 percent of all kids – live in poverty in Toronto. That’s an increase of more than 10,000 children in poverty in just two years, according to Social Planning Toronto.

Fact: Toronto is tied with St. John, N.B. for the highest child poverty rate of major Canadian urban centres.

Fact: Children are the largest group accessing food banks. According to the Ontario Association of Food Banks, at least 375,000 people rely on food banks each month, an increase of 18 percent since 2007. That includes more than 130,000 kids per month.

Fact: For every step forward, the Liberal government has taken one step back. Every time the Ontario Child Benefit increases, social assistance rates are clawed back by the same amount for parents on OW and ODSP.

Fact: 158,500 households are stuck waiting for affordable housing across Ontario, according to the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. Despite wait lists that stretch for years and a repair backlog of nearly $900 million in Toronto alone, the Liberals have no plans to expand access or support urgent repairs.

Fact: The Liberal government failed to increase funding for the community use of schools. Despite the government’s promises to increase funding to $66 million annually to keep schools open for community groups, research by Social Planning Toronto and SPACE Coalition shows that the government has broken that promise. 

Fact: The Minister responsible for poverty reduction is the very same Minister in charge of cutting public services and selling off public assets. It’s clear that the Liberals’ unfair cuts will continue, even though Campaign 2000 concludes that “Austerity Undermined Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy” and “eroded the living conditions of children and their families.” The Liberal government just doesn’t understand that more cuts won’t reduce poverty.

Deb Matthews in her own words

  • The Liberal road map to raising the standard of living for children and ``breaking the cycle of poverty'' sets bold but achievable'' goals, said Deb Matthews, minister of children and youth services.  Canadian Press, December 4, 2008
  • But for the first time, we have a good, solid, ambitious plan to break the cycle of poverty in Ontario. And working together with everyone at the table, we'll make it a reality. Deb Matthews Toronto Star, letters, December 15, 2008
  • 'What we're going to do is set a bold but ambitious target, an achievable target and we're going to lay out the road map of how we achieve that target,' Matthews said.  'We've made a decision as a government that poverty can't wait. The health of our economic future depends on these kids being successful. We're not going to wait on poverty, we're going to move as aggressively as we can, within the context of the road map we're going to lay out tomorrow.'
  • In Ontario, poverty is a problem we can't afford. The time for action is now….It's a comprehensive strategy focused on breaking the cycle of poverty so all kids have the chance to reach their full potential.  Most of us agree there is a moral case to be made for reducing poverty. Helping people get ahead is the right thing to do.  But right now in Ontario, the economic argument for reducing poverty is equally compelling. It's the smart thing to do.
  • 'What we're doing today is laying out the framework,' she said.  'The implementation of the strategy will be as fast as we possibly can but those decisions will be made in the budget of each year.'