In this week’s bulletin:

Quote of the Week: Downturn no excuse to abandon anti-poverty fight, say economists

More than 350 Rally to Support Poverty Reduction

25 in 5’s “Five Tests for Success” of Ontario’ PRS

Poverty Reduction a Strong Priority with Canadians, shows new poll

Fiscal Update Doesn’t Mention Poverty… Directly

Faith Communities step up for PRS

Non-stop Community Events Build Province-wide Momentum for Poverty Reduction

Income Divide Widens in Canada

Child Care Must be Central to Poverty Reduction Plan

Add your voice to the more than 650 that have endorsed the 25 in 5 Declaration

Quote of the week

“The best and cheapest poverty reduction strategy is to move swiftly with investments on affordable housing, education and training, early learning and child care, public transit, income supports and jobs that pay living wages. Retrenching in the face of stubbornly high rates of poverty merely defers even larger costs to the taxpayer down the road. As the mechanic always warns us: ‘You can pay now or you can pay more later’.”

From “Economic crisis no excuse to abandon anti-poverty fight”, Opinion article by economists Arthur Donner, Mike McCracken and Armine Yalnizyan in Toronto Star, October 21.

More than 350 Rally to Support Poverty Reduction

Supporters of the 25 in 5 movement from across Toronto and throughout the province gathered yesterday to present the five tests that will be used to judge the government’s plan when it is released later this year.

Pat Capponi, of Voices from the Street and a key 25 in 5 Network spokesperson, inspired the crowd with her reflections on all the people she’s met through the campaign, the struggles they are enduring and the fight they still have in them. Armine Yalnizyan, the firebrand Senior Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, presented new polling data showing Canadians are eager for leadership on poverty reduction.  Minister Deb Matthews promised that the government is still on track for the release of its poverty reduction strategy in December.

For more on the event visit

In the Media:

Anti-Poverty Plans Still on Track, Toronto Star

Anti-poverty group wants Queen’s Park to provide real solutions, Brampton Guardian

25 in 5’s “Five Tests for Success” of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

As we approach the December deadline for the government’s announcement, the 25 in 5 Network has develop “Five Tests for Success” which will be used to assess the strength of the province’s poverty reduction plan. The five tests are:

  1. it must include a target to reduce poverty by 25% over 5 years;
  2. there must be an income measure of poverty so progress on the target can be tracked;
  3. it must show clear policies that ensure sustaining employment, livable incomes, and strong communities;
  4. it must include accountability measures to keep it on track; and
  5. there must be an initial financial downpayment in the 2009 provincial budget.

More information and background on the five tests is available at

Read media coverage:

Don’t let poverty fall off agenda, Toronto Star

Activists Call for Poverty Plan to Become Law, Toronto Star

Poverty reduction a strong priority with Canadians: Poll

The majority of Canadians believe Canada should try to distinguish itself in the world as a country where no one lives in poverty, according to an Environics Research poll conducted for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The national poll reveals 90% of Canadians say they would be proud if their Premier took the lead in reducing poverty in their province; 88% want Canada to be a leader in poverty reduction; and 77% say a recession is all the more reason to act now.

For full poll results see

Read media coverage:

39% believe they’re just paycheques from poverty, CTV

Fiscal Update doesn’t mention poverty… directly

There was some trepidation last week as the Ontario Finance Minister presented a mid-year Economic Outlook to the Ontario Legislature.  Although Finance Minister Dwight Duncan had offered assurances in a speech to the Canadian Club on October 16 that the Government remained committed to its poverty reduction priority despite facing difficult economic conditions, the anti-poverty community held its breath as his Economic Outlook was released.

While there was no specific mention of poverty in the Minister’s statement to the Legislature, nor in the full 2008 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review released on October 22, the Finance Minister continued to provide assurances afterwards that the Government remained firm in its commitment to produce a poverty reduction plan.

One concerning phrase in the Economic Outlook referred to “delaying the implementation of and slowing down some new spending.”  While there were no specifics provided, NDP MPP and Community and Social Services critic Michael Prue pointed out in Question period on October 23 that “after one year, not one red cent has been put forward for a dental program for low-income people.” (The Government had announced in March that it would provide $135 million program over three years for this dental care program).

Minister Matthews’ reply to the question was: “We are at a really interesting moment in Ontario’s history when we have a government that is committed to actually tackling poverty. We’re committed to measuring poverty, we’re committed to making progress.”

“As the member opposite well knows, we are on track to release our poverty reduction strategy by the end of the year.  That hasn’t changed.  We’re full steam ahead. We are going to make the changes we need to make so that every child in this province has the opportunity to be very, very best they can be.’

Yes, Minister . . . but about the spending on that dental care program?

Faith Communities step up for PRS

As Mary Jo Leddy writes in Radical Gratitude, our culture has themes of “ingratitude” as people are never satisfied, always wanting more.  Gratitude – even with very little – is a deeply religious tradition which thanks God but also reaches out to the neighbour and calls for justice, so all have enough and maintain their dignity. So on October 13, various faith communities challenged their members not only to assist with donations to food banks and other charities around Thanksgiving, but to also advocate for justice by supporting 25 in 5, contacting their Members of the Provincial Parliament, and inviting MPPs to join them at food banks or Out of the Cold.

This message from the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) was edited by faith leaders to fit the language, experience, and theology of their community.

A few days later, twenty five people met on 16 October 2008 at the University of Toronto Multifaith Centre to learn how different faiths understand social justice and poverty elimination.  Leaders from Buddhist, Christian, Humanitarian-Unitarian, Jewish, and Muslim communities presented their tradition’s perspectives.   Participants also included Sikh and Hindu persons.

Elimination of poverty is embedded in the theologies of all faiths present.  It is a duty to look at the root causes of poverty; then one moves to assist the people who are marginalized and to call on government, faith groups and business to ask for justice.  Study moves to action.

Poverty is not just a problem for those who are poor, but a problem for all society.  Those who are wealthy now can later become the victims of marginalization, either by having an unsafe community, seeing their family members become poor, or becoming poor themselves.  In Spring 2009, there will be a follow-up forum looking at faith groups’ relationships with government and poverty elimination.

Non-stop Community Events Build Ontario-wide Momentum for Poverty Reduction

Communities across Ontario continued to meet and promote strong provincial action on poverty reduction last week.  Reports sent in to Poverty Watch Ontario and receiving local media coverage include the following:

Cambridge – More than 75 people gathered at the atrium of Cambridge City Hall by invitation of the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries and the Community Response to Fair Income Planning Group. Participants included non profit agencies, faith community, labour, neighbourhood associations, people living in low income, board members of the local agencies and other interested individuals from the community. Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig spoke to the importance of a provincial poverty reduction strategy and the need for municipalities to become engaged.  He emphasized the responsibility of pushing the agenda forward and of showing support for the 25 in 5 Declaration.  Councilor Pam Wolf asked the gathered individuals to Stand Up to Make Poverty History and Linda Terry, Executive Director of the Social Planning Council encouraged the audience to endorse the 25 in 5 initiative.

Sarnia – About 250 people rallied in front of Sarnia City Hall on Friday, October 17 to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The assembled included low income people, municipal officials, high school students, religious leaders, teachers and social, health and community legal agency workers.  Mayor Mike Bradley addressed the crowd as did Christine McDonald, a single mom struggling to feed her children and get a college diploma, and Professor Ruth Guerts of Lambton College who talked about child poverty.  A main message was the importance of the federal government doing its share to fight poverty.

Hamilton – More than 75 people filled the Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre on October 21 to support a poverty reduction strategy for Ontario and announce the endorsement of the 25 in 5 Declaration via release of 5,000 signed postcards. The event was organized by the Hamilton Poverty Reduction Working Group, which indicated that it would be delivering the postcards to Minister Deb Matthews on October 27 in Toronto.  Many speakers expressed why they supported the Declaration and its three main priorities of sustaining employment, livable incomes and strong supportive communities.  Several stories moved those assembled to tears.

Halton – On Tuesday, October 21, Advancement of Women Halton (AWH), a group representing 13 business and professional women’s organizations in Halton, made a presentation to the Health and Social Services Committee of Halton Region supported by Community Development Halton. The presentation called “Women and Poverty” addressed the impacts of poverty on women in the Region. AWH explicitly urged the Committee to support the 25 in Declaration in its presentation and invited Committee members to a presentation of a Blueprint for Poverty Reduction in Ontario scheduled for November 27 in Burlington.

Oshawa – The poverty reduction working group in Durham Region felt that one of the best ways to reach people about poverty reduction across the large area that Durham covers would be to arrange a broadcast hour through the local CBC cable affiliate CHEX-TV Channel 12 in Oshawa. Oshawa City Councillor April Cullen, who has been instrumental in getting endorsement of the 25 in 5 Declaration through the City Councils of Oshawa, Pickering and Ajax asked Dan Carter of CHEX-TV for a chance to feature poverty reduction and 25 in 5 on his nightly phone-in broadcast.  Peter Clutterbuck of the SPNO and 25 in 5 Network joined Councilor Cullen on this program on October 23.  It proved to be an excellent opportunity to talk about poverty reduction in Ontario and to inform Durham viewers, a number of whom phoned in with their questions and comments.

Waterloo Region – More than 75 people came out to an early morning meeting at Cambridge City Hall on Friday, October 24 to express there support for “Now is the Time to Reduce Poverty in Ontario”. Sponsored by Opportunities Waterloo, the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo and the Social Planning Council of Cambridge & North Dumfries, the event featured Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig, who read a resolution endorsing the 25 in 5 Declaration passed by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo on October 8.  Guest speaker Peter Clutterbuck of SPNO and the 25 in 5 Network reviewed the progress in the cross-Ontario campaign to build support for a poverty reduction strategy.  Several community members shared their knowledge about the seriousness of the poverty issue in Waterloo Region from community, professional and personal perspectives. The gathering ended with a Stand Up of those who had endorsed the Declaration, both organizations and individuals, and those who indicated that they would be doing so.  Computers with an Internet connection to the 25 in 5 web site were set up and available in the meeting room to give people a chance to endorse the Declaration before leaving the meeting.

Belleville – More than 75 community members came to Market Square at City Hall at noon on October 24 for a “Taste of Poverty” as 30 low income people and supporters displayed empty plates to symbolize hunger and poverty in the community.  City Councillor Pat Culhane and local radio celebrity Scott Lalonde spoke of their own personal experiences living in poverty. Councillor Culhane urged support for the “Quinte Covenant on Poverty” and the 25 in 5 Declaration, which she would be presenting to Belleville City Council for endorsement at its next meeting.

Check the Poverty Watch Ontario calendar for local poverty reduction events in your community and let us know about your plans for activities and events in your community by submitting them to

Income Divide Widens in Canada

Last week, a report out of the Organization for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD) placed Canada 17th out of 30 member nations on income equality in 1995-2005.  Most disturbing is that this reverses a trend set in the previous two decades that showed the income gap narrowing in Canada.

The study shows that income inequality is mostly affecting young adults and families with children.

The report attributes the growing inequality to reduced Government spending on transfers to individuals such as unemployment benefits and family benefits compared to other OECD countries. Therefore, the effect on inequality has been reduced by the erosion of these social programs.

Income gap grows wider, Toronto Star

Child Care Must be Central to Poverty Reduction Plan

Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois spoke to an Ontario audience at Ryerson University on October 23 after receiving an award from Ontario child care advocates for her introduction of $7-a-day daycare in Quebec when she was Minister of education in 1998.

What did we learn?  If Ontario wants to cut child poverty and improve student achievement, it should copy Quebec’s $7-a-day child care system, implemented in 1998.  Since then, Quebec’s child poverty rates have dropped by 50 per cent, school test scores have gone from among the lowest to the highest in Canada and the percentage of mothers in the workforce in the province is now the highest.

Copy Quebec daycare PQ Leader says, Toronto Star

Globe and Mail / CBC’s The Current Interview Pauline Marois

Add your voice to the 25 in 5 Declaration

By endorsing the 25 in 5 Declaration we can send a clear message to the Provincial Government that action on poverty reduction cannot be delayed:

Last week we got 170 new endorsements! Thanks for spreading the word!

Just some of the new organizations to endorse this week:

  • Town of Ajax
  • Links2Care
  • Kingston Economic Development Corporation
  • Family Space Quinte
  • Off the Wall Youth Centre
  • Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County
  • Kingston Co-Operative Homes
  • Council of Emmanuel United Church, Ottawa
  • Councillor Pam Wolf, City of Cambridge
  • New Circles Community Services

Add your voice. Visit and sign on for poverty reduction by endorsing the 25 in 5 Founding Declaration.

You can also make a difference by:

  1. Talking about 25 in 5 and Poverty Reduction with your friends, family and local community and asking them to endorse the campaign
  2. Sharing your support for the 25 in 5 Declaration with your MPP and other local leaders
  3. Visiting to find out about poverty reduction events near you
  4. Sharing your stories and news of local initiatives with the network, building the grassroots provincial movement

About the Countdown to a Poverty Reduction Plan eBulletins

The 25 in 5 Network is steered by a coalition of Ontario organizations including Campaign 2000, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the Social Planning Network of Ontario the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, The Colour of Poverty Project, the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice, Voices From the Street, among others.

This is a weekly bulletin from 25 in 5 to its contact list of supporters and interested parties across the province. The Countdown Bulletin is intended to keep you up to date on the development of a poverty reduction plan for Ontario and to let you know how you, your organizations and networks can help make it happen.

For more information visit