Countdown to a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS)
One week to December deadline, one big push for 25 in 5

  1. Quote of the week: we can no longer afford to ignore costs of poverty, says bank economist
  2. Poverty costs Ontario billions per year, reveals new study
  3. Clergy urge Finance Minister to remember the poor in pre-budget consultations
  4. 25-city tour promotes “Leadership in Hard Times” for poverty reduction
  5. Young People with disabilities develop 25 in 5 Blueprint
  6. The right way to stimulate: poverty reduction key to addressing economic crisis
  7. Little progress on child poverty, threat increasing, says Campaign 2000 report
  8. Workers need help now, say 1,000 voices at Good Jobs Summit in Toronto
  9. TAKE ACTION: Three ways to make a difference on poverty reduction
  10. And finally, the Five Tests for Assessing PRS

Quote of the week

”Poverty is a personal tragedy for everybody it afflicts. That alone justifies action.  However, the case to fight poverty is further strengthened if poverty is costly not only to those directly affected but society more generally. The [societal] cost is so large that substantial efforts are warranted to fight it.”

Who said it? Don Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for TD Bank Financial Group, commenting on results from a new study that show poverty costs the federal and provincial governments up to $13 billion a year in lost revenues.

Read the press release or the final report

Poverty costs Ontario billions per year, reveals new study

A landmark study by Ontario’s food banks reveals that poverty has a price tag of up to $13 billion per year in lost revenues for federal and provincial government.

From the Toronto Star: “It’s vital that Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government heed this message as it puts the finishing touches on its poverty reduction strategy.

Every day that we delay tackling the crisis costs us more. Poverty leads to social assistance costs, unhealthy families, children who do poorly in school, and untrained adults stuck in low-paying jobs, while high-skill jobs go unfilled.

The challenge, particularly now when the cupboard is rather bare, is that the investments come first and the savings later. By quantifying the total cost of poverty – it’s up to $38 billion a year, when all factors are combined – this report should give politicians the impetus they’ve been lacking.”

Check out the final report

Media Coverage:

  • Poverty carries $38B price tag: study Ottawa Citizen, Nov 21
  • Everyone pays the province’s $38 billion cost Toronto Star,  Nov 20
  • Poverty costs Ontario $38b a year Hamilton Spectator, Nov 20
  • Not addressing poverty’s root causes costing Ontario $13B annually: study CBC, Nov 20

Clergy urge finance minister to remember the poor

“While we all have a role to play in reducing poverty, only government can launch the large-scale programs and policies essential for successful poverty reduction. Only government can re-allocate the resources of society more fairly through taxes and increased funding for affordable housing.”

Bishop Colin R. Johnson, Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada, Public Service Ad in the Toronto Star, November 18, 2008

From the Toronto Star: “Toronto Anglican Bishop Colin Johnson will be at Queen’s Park today, urging provincial politicians to remember the poor as they look for a way out of current economic troubles.

The Canadian Islamic Congress has likewise called for more affordable housing, lower education costs, increased child tax benefits to low-income and working-poor families, tax cuts for low-income families and a plan to end homelessness.

In his presentation to Duncan, Johnson will call for strong measures to help the poor in the next provincial budget, expected in the spring, including a “decent, livable minimum wage” and programs for better dental and drug benefits, housing and support for people moving off social assistance.”

Read more from the Toronto Star coverage

Little progress on child poverty, threat increasing

760,000 children live in poverty in Canada, according to Campaign 2000 report

A provincial report released by Ontario Campaign 2000 says the province’s child poverty level is stubbornly high at 11.8 per cent and will get far worse if the province plunges into a recession.

According to Jacquie Maund, co-ordinator of Ontario Campaign 2000, “Now, more than ever, we need governments to make a solid financial down payment on a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.”

The report shows 324,000 Ontario children are living in poverty, with the average low-income family living $7,100 below the poverty line.

What can YOU do to support this message?

Take 2 minutes and go to to send an email message the Prime Minister & Opposition Leaders by following the link to the Make Poverty History site.

Leadership in Hard Times: 25 in 5 on tour to promote a realistic and achievable poverty reduction plan

The 25 in 5 Network is in the midst of a 25-stop provincial tour to promote a realistic and achievable plan that would make Ontario a leader in poverty reduction.

The six-week “Leadership in Hard Times: 25 in 5’s Tour to Promote Poverty Reduction” was released a week ago at a 25 in 5 Summit in Toronto, just weeks before the Ontario government announces its poverty reduction strategy.  More than 100 leaders in the poverty reduction campaign from more than 25 communities across Ontario came together in Toronto to map out a common strategy for making gins on poverty reduction.

The coalition’s consultation document, A Blueprint for Poverty Reduction: Leadership in Hard Times, proposes specific steps to reduce poverty by 25% within the next 5 years. It argues that action on a poverty reduction plan is especially necessary in tough economic times, identifies the various policy tools that are at Ontario’s disposal to tackle poverty, and proposes a set of specific, multi-year steps to achieve the goal of 25 in 5.

Details of the tour and upcoming dates are available on the website.

On the road towards poverty reduction… community reports

  • Sudbury, November 12. About 20 community leaders in Sudbury engaged in a discussion of the Blueprint.  The group included low income advocates, City of Greater Sudbury civic officials including a city councilor, representatives of the mayor’s office and the social services administration, community service leaders, public health officials, members of several local school boards, labour, academia and others.
  • North Bay, November 13. The Blueprint was discussed with the North Bay Provincial Poverty Reduction Working Group at a lunch meeting and presented in the evening to a community gathering that included Liberal MPP Monique Smith at the Annual meeting of the North Bay Social Planning Council in the evening, where local Liberal MPP Monique Smith was in attendance.
  • Parry Sound-Burk’s Falls, November 14. Marvyn Novick, Peter Clutterbuck and Mike Balkwill brought the Blueprint to a meeting of social and health professionals, civic officials including town councilors, and faith leaders, and local citizens in Parry Sound with a video-conference tie-in to a small group in Burk’s Falls.
  • Bracebridge, November 14. The Blueprint road show moved on from Parry Sound to Bracebridge in the afternoon of November 14, where more than 40 people from the service, faith, civic, health and education community attended the presentation.
  • Sault Ste. Marie, November 15.  Mike Balkwill working with the SPNO on the 25 in 5 cross-community campaign presented the main elements of the Blueprint at a forum on homelessness in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Cornwall, November 19.  About 50 people attended the forum, local city councilors, the local medical officer of health, teachers and students. Students from the St Lawrence Intermediate School who had participated in a Poem Contest in October read their poems on a “Life without Poverty”.  Following the Blueprint presentation, discussion ranged from what people could do to reduce poverty at the local level to the important role of the Federal Government.
  • Belleville, November 20.  More than 100 community members attended an afternoon presentation of the Blueprint by Marvyn Novick in the Belleville Public Library.

For details on the times, dates and locations of the remaining 17 meetings in the Blueprint tour, see the calendar at

Selected Media Coverage:

  • Reducing the cycle of poverty, Welland Tribune, Nov 14
  • Poverty can be beaten, if steps taken: advocate Belleville Intelligencer, Nov 23
  • Anti-poverty group unveiling 5-year plan Hamilton Spectator, Nov 20
  • Development Council to unveil ‘blueprint’, Cornwall Standard Freeholder, Nov 19
  • Poverty reduction must be provincial priority: Novick, Standard Freeholder, Nov 20
  • Poverty warriors meet, Pembroke Daily Observer, Nov 5
  • Meeting to address affordable housing, Belleville Intelligencer, Nov 7
  • Meeting focused on poverty-reduction The North Bay Nugget, Nov 5

Young People with disabilities Submit Declaration in Solidarity with 25 in 5

Three young people with intellectual disabilities attended and actively participated in the Leadership Forum on Poverty Reduction held in Toronto on November 17.

Cathy Lemon, Kenny Freeman, and Veronica Peake, all partners in a small catering enterprise called Lemon & Allspice – The Coffee Shed, framed their own declaration on poverty reduction in solidarity with the 25 in 5 Network.

To view their declaration see

The right way to stimulate: poverty reduction key to addressing economic crisis

Toronto Star columnist Tom Walkom writes, “I’m not sure that governments understand the nature of this slump. In fact, when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty talks of putting off anti-poverty measures until the economy improves, or federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty muses about selling the CN Tower, I’m convinced they don’t get it.

Because for this country in this recession, income maintenance – ensuring that enough people have money to spend – is key to resolving the crisis.

It means, among other things, moving forward on anti-poverty measures – not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but because, in a serious economic downturn, it’s crucial that as many as possible have money to spend.  It also means moving forward on efforts to raise wages and purchasing power – from hiking the minimum wage to encouraging unionization.

Related Links

Workers need help now, say 1,000 voices at Good Jobs Summit in Toronto From the Toronto Star “A pushback started here yesterday. Fed up with disappearing work, lax employment standards and poor wages, almost 1,000 local union and social activists began a major offensive to change public policy so good paying long-term jobs are created in the Greater Toronto Area.

“We are going to challenge those in power,” John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, told the Good Jobs For All summit at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre yesterday.”

Read more from the Toronto Star coverage

One week to go: 3 Ways to Make a Difference

“While we all have a role to play in reducing poverty, only government can launch the large-scale programs and policies essential for successful poverty reduction. Only government can re-allocate the resources of society more fairly through taxes and increased funding for affordable housing.”

Bishop Colin R. Johnson, Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada, Public Service Ad in the Toronto Star, November 18, 2008

1. Sign Up and Speak Up for Poverty Reduction at Pre-Budget Consultations

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs is the all-party committee that consults Ontarians annually on budget priorities – it is critical that this committee hears the 25in5 message: Ontario needs a downpayment  on poverty reduction in the 2009 budget. That means new dollars for programs that will make a tangible difference in people’s lives.

Organizations should call 416-325-3883 to find out how they can get involved.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan Consultations

Ontario’s Finance Minister has launched a round of cross-provincial consultations to inform the 2009 spring budget. Dates available now in: Thunder Bay – Dec 1, Sudbury and Sault St. Marie – Dec 12.  We need partners to commit to sign up and speak up for poverty reduction before the Finance Minister. Click here to see more details and to find out how you can get involved.

2. Speak up for poverty reduction and why our Economy Needs a Poverty Reduction Strategy Now

As Ontario edges closer to the announcement of a Poverty Reduction Plan, it is more important than ever that we all speak up for poverty reduction.  From every voicemail, phone call, letter and email to our local MPP, to a passionate plea at our community center for signing the 25 in 5 Declaration, to that letter we have always wanted to write to our local newspaper… NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD! Learn more here.

3. Join the Movement for Poverty Reduction in Your Community

Anti-poverty networks in 25 communities will be meeting in November and December as part of the “Leadership in Hard Times: 25 in 5’s Tour to Promote Poverty Reduction,” to get ready for the next stage of the Poverty Reduction campaign.  Now is the time to talk about our expectations of the government’s plan in December and to begin to organize our collective voice leading up to the 2009 spring budget in Ontario. Details on times and locations is available here.

And finally, the Five Tests for assessing the PRS

The five tests against which 25 in 5 will measure the government’s plan in December;

  1. It must include a target to reduce poverty by 25% over 5 years;
  2. There must be an income measure of poverty so we can track progress on the target;
  3. There must be clear policies to ensure sustaining employment, livable incomes, and strong communities;
  4. It must include accountability measures to keep it on track; and
  5. There must be a financial downpayment in the 2009-10 budget.

Read more details here.

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