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2024 Ontario Budget Response

April 2024

The 2024 Ontario Budget fails to adequately meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

As a coalition of over 70 organizations, rooted in the communities we serve, we understand how critical it is for Ontario to prioritize support for those who continue to be left behind. When a budget falls short in addressing the needs of the most marginalized in our province, it leads to increased negative consequences.

Although there were some positive announcements, the 2024 Ontario Provincial Budget, Building a Better Ontario, does little to uplift families living in low-income, persons with disabilities, workers and those relying on income supports like Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

Ending child and family poverty requires a multifaceted approach that involves policy changes, increased funding and targeted initiatives aimed at improving the lives of children and families across the province. The approach must involve decent work, investment into child care, affordable housing and barrier-free access to income supports to reduce and ultimately eradicate child and family poverty.

Our pre-budget recommendation submission can be found here.

Prioritizing Decent Work & Equity in the Workplace

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.      Increase the minimum wage to at least $20

b.      Close the gender gap

c.      Implement 10 permanent sick days

The province will put an additional $100 million in the Skills Development Fund this year, which will help young people and job seekers advance their careers. However, prioritizing decent work in Ontario does not only mean more jobs but good jobs, characterized by fair equitable wages, job security and benefits such as adequate paid sick time. The minimum wage increase from $15.50 to $16.55 in October 2023 still falls short of the $20 needed. This increase will impact close to 1.4 million workers, but workers and families are still struggling to make ends meet as they’re forced to contend with multiple jobs to afford necessities.[i] In 2021, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) went up by 3.4% and food costs alone increased by 4.2%.[ii] Poverty will deepen as the price of basic goods continues to increase and wages do not.

Women-led lone-parent households, racialized, Indigenous and transgender women and women with disabilities are disproportionately affected by poverty and experience barriers to accessing the job market. The 2024 Ontario Budget does not make any reference to closing the gender pay gap and pay equity legislation.

Similarly, the 2024 budget did not address the longstanding call for ten employer-paid sick days for workers across the province that would allow workers to take sick leave without risking their income. Paid sick days are crucial to reducing poverty as they prevent the loss of wages due to illness-related absences, which in turn helps individuals and families maintain their financial well-being.

Investment in an Adequate Childcare System

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.      Prioritize a childcare workforce strategy

b.      Implement affordable childcare fees

c.      Implement a needs-based funding formula

d.      Investment into quality public and non-profit childcare

We commend the government for the investment of $16 billion in capital grants over 10 years to build, expand and renew schools and childcare spaces across Ontario. However, an investment in an adequate childcare system in Ontario is not only one of “spaces” but one of affordability for parents, public funding and adequate training and wages for childcare workers.

Advocates, staff and parents have continuously called on the province to address the ongoing retention and workforce crisis affecting quality childcare and Early Childhood Educators (ECEs). Yet this year’s provincial budget fails to mention any funding aimed at creating a workforce strategy for ECEs. Without an adequate ECE workforce strategy, efforts to expand and renew childcare centres will not succeed. The Ministry of Education has estimated Ontario will be short 8,500 ECEs needed to meet their expansion targets by 2025-2026.[iii] An adequate workforce strategy includes investment into increased salaries for ECEs and non-RECE staff, reversal of funding cuts to the education budget, paid preparation time and a healthy and safe work environment among other recommendations.

Last year’s budget committed to reducing childcare fees to an average of $10 per day,[iv] but this continues to be inaccessible for many families. Outside of the plan to expand spaces, there was no mention of working to fix affordability in the 2024 Ontario Budget. This aforementioned plan should work to replace the current subsidy system with a barrier-free sliding fee scale with a cap of $10 per day per family. While this is being developed, the province must increase access to the current subsidy system and remove barriers like subsidy childcare wait times and unaffordable fees. Early learning and childcare are considered critical to addressing child poverty and a lack of access to childcare will only hinder parents, especially mothers, from joining the workforce, pushing them into a further state of poverty.

Investment into an Affordable and Accessible Housing Strategy

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.      Increase housing supply and access to housing

b.      Prioritize and support the nonprofit and co-op housing sector

c.      Collaborate with the federal government to ensure that unfair evictions, rent increases and service decreases are proscribed by provincial statutes and that accessible enforcement mechanisms are available to tenants.

d.      Support tenants by preventing unlawful evictions, eliminating vacancy decontrol and making meaningful reforms to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).

e.      Build an adequate data system for housing indicators

As the affordable housing crisis worsens, low-income renters are disproportionately affected. We commend the provincial government in investing an additional $152 million over the next three years to support those facing unstable housing conditions and dealing with mental health and addiction challenges, which will complement the $202 million each year in homelessness prevention programs and Indigenous supportive housing programs announced last year. Expanding access to supportive housing will go a long way for marginalized groups who are dealing with the lack of mental health and addiction supports in their respective communities.

The 2024 budget notes that they will be prioritizing homeownership and will be working with other levels of government and industry partners to help build at least 1.5 million homes by 2031. We appreciate that there is a focus on increasing the housing supply intended to meet the demand for homeownership; however, there was little focus put on families that have no option but to rent. Campaign 2000, alongside many housing advocates, has been pushing for investment into the construction of affordable rental properties to ensure affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. Low and moderate-income tenants have very few rental options that do not force them to pay unaffordable rents. 60% of Ontario tenants noted they had no option but to cut back on food in order to pay their shelter costs.[v] Campaign 2000 recommended that prioritizing and supporting the nonprofit and co-op housing sector would be an effective solution to ensure the creation of rental housing units that would remain accessible and affordable in the long term. New market housing alone has never provided the affordable housing supply needed by low-income families and nonprofit and co-op housing has a proven track record for filling in the gaps that the usual market does not fill.

There was also no mention of solidifying support and protection for tenants, elimination of vacancy decontrol and meaningful reforms to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). Eliminating vacancy de-control and extending rent regulation to units built after 2018 is critical to achieving affordability for families that rent and for reducing the number of evictions. As it stands, vacancy decontrol only creates an incentive for landlords to remove long-term tenants, which results in rental increases far above inflation and unnecessary evictions.

Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.      Double Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates

b.      Invest in making access to social assistance equitable and barrier-free.

c.      Work with the federal government and provincial governments to ensure that all children have adequate and barrier-free access to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and Ontario Child Benefit (OCB).

d.      Reinvest all clawed-back federal transfers including Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) funds into social assistance programs.

e.      Ensure immigration status is not a barrier to eligibility for income supports or public health initiatives

People with disabilities have a higher likelihood of living in poverty due to economic and social barriers to accessing full-time employment. Adequate income support programs like Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates can help prevent and alleviate poverty by ensuring that families have sufficient resources for housing, food, education, and health care. The 2024 Ontario Budget referred to the annual inflation adjustments to core allowances for the ODSP program. However, the current ODSP rates are not sufficient to cover the needs of individuals living with disabilities. While this was a step in the right direction, the base amount was already insufficient and far below the poverty line. Recent studies show that in Toronto, the cost of healthy food and shelter is already 50% more than the ODSP rates and 20-25% higher than those rates in other GTA communities and Ottawa.[vi]

Similarly, the 2024 provincial budget made no reference to increasing OW rates for Ontarians. OW has seen no increases in its rates for the sixth year in a row. OW rates continue to be $733 a month for individuals despite inflation increasing an average of 6.5% over the last 12 months.[vii] Those who are unhoused, living in shelters, or do not have a fixed address do not receive the shelter component of OW/ODSP, thereby subsisting on an even lower rate.

We urge the provincial government to immediately double OW and ODSP rates to bring incomes up to at least the Census Family Low Income Measure, After Tax (CFLIM-AT). Inadequate rates of both ODSP and OW only keep families in persistent poverty. Policies that enhance income security contribute to a more equitable society and can lead to improved overall well-being, especially for marginalized communities that already face systemic barriers.

Download the 2024 Ontario Budget Response pdf.

Contact:
Mithilen Mathipalan
Coordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000

Family Service Toronto
355 Church St., Toronto, ON M5B 0B2
416-595-9230 x 298
[email protected]

About Ontario Campaign 2000

Ontario Campaign 2000 is a provincial coalition of over 70 active partner organizations committed to eradicating child and family poverty in Ontario. Our membership is broad and diverse. It includes faith groups, members of the healthcare and community sectors serving children and families, educators, academics, racialized communities, and low-income and working families from Thunder Bay to Peel Region to Windsor. For nearly 30 years, Campaign 2000 has carefully monitored child poverty rates and related social policies at the federal and provincial levels through our annual report cards on child and family poverty. For more information, visit www.ontariocampaign2000.ca.

Envisioning a Poverty-Free Ontario

Ontario Campaign 2000 has released its Ontario Report Card, Envisioning a Poverty-Free Ontario. The 2023 report card on child and family poverty.

This year’s report examines the shift in direction between lowered child and family poverty rates in 2020 and the increase in child and family poverty in 2021. The number of children in poverty in Ontario fell from 17.6 % to 13.4 % between 2019-2020, largely as a result of temporary federal assistance, and then increased to 16% (449, 380 children) in 2021.

The report further looks at issues affecting marginalized communities and how we can work to eradicate poverty through decent work for all, strengthening our childcare systems, implementing affordable and accessible housing, closing the gaps on income security and investing in barrier-free public health.

This report examines some of the critical factors that contribute to heightened levels of poverty and underscores the need for immediate action and sustainable support for low-income and marginalized communities. They include:

  • Inadequate minimum wage rates keep workers below the poverty line.
  • Disproportionately higher poverty rates among Indigenous and racialized communities; more specifically women from these communities, due to historical systemic discrimination.
  • Provincial social assistance rates keep individuals and families in a consistent cycle of poverty.
  • Higher poverty rates among lone-parent households, particularly those led by women.
  • Lack of investment and heightened barriers to public health further push families into poverty.
  • A lack of access to childcare can hinder parents, especially mothers, from joining the workforce, limiting their income potential and contributing to poverty.
  • A shortage of affordable housing choices in Ontario leads to increased housing costs, forcing families to allocate a significant portion of their income to housing expenses. A lack of affordable and adequate living conditions perpetuates a cycle of poverty by limiting economic mobility and opportunities for affected families.

It is a critical moment in the history of this province to tackle poverty. With effective public policy and program interventions, we can reduce child and family poverty and ultimately eradicate poverty in our lifetime.

Want to read more?

Click to read the 2023 report card in English and French; and the press release in English and French.

Ontario Campaign 2000 Submits Provincial Pre-Budget 2024 Recommendations

Ontario Campaign 2000 has submitted a series of budget recommendations for the 2024 Provincial Ontario Budget. We call on the Province of Ontario to prioritize and invest in decent work and equity in the workplace, an adequate childcare system, affordable and accessible housing and income security free of barriers. Download the submission or read the submission below.

2024 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission
January 2024

Ontario Campaign 2000 Recommendations for Ontario Budget 2024:

1.      Prioritize Decent Work and Equity in the Workplace

2.      Reinforce and Invest in an Adequate Childcare System

3.      Invest in Affordable and Accessible Housing

4.      Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

As a coalition of frontline service agencies, we have seen the ongoing effects of poverty on children and families. The 2024 Ontario Budget must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable within the province. Data shows that poverty among children dropped during the pandemic, but this was temporary. Most recent tax-filer data from 2021 shows that child poverty has increased and almost returned to pre-pandemic levels.[1] In 2021, 449,380 children lived in poverty in Ontario, which is 16% of all children under 18.[2]  This is an increase of 72, 340 children from one year prior.[3]

Children live in poverty because their families live in poverty. High increases in inflation coupled with a lack of employment and inadequate wages, are making a bad situation worse for many families. As of October 1, 2023, the Ontario minimum wage for adults went up from $15.50 to $16.55 per hour. This was a welcomed and much-needed increase but falls well short of a living wage. Raising the minimum wage to a fair, equitable and living wage not only addresses the inequality facing the working poor but would also help to address the systemic realities of the racial, Indigenous, ableist and gendered wage divide. Workers of colour, women and gender-diverse workers were more likely to work in involuntary part-time, temporary and contract employment, often receiving lower wages and few if any benefits.[4]

An accessible supply of quality childcare also plays a role in assisting families out of poverty. A sufficient childcare system must encompass a framework that includes affordable fees for parents, a workforce strategy for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), and an expansion strategy that includes quality public and nonprofit spaces. While federal transfers to Ontario for early learning and child care have almost doubled since 2021-22, reducing child care costs for some families, Ontario’s provincial child care allocations have declined, even before adjusting for inflation.[5] Without affordable childcare options, too many families face the challenges of balancing work and family responsibility, where they have to choose between earning an income and caring for their children.

Inadequate rates of both Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) maintain poverty. Current ODSP rates are not sufficient to cover the needs of individuals living with disabilities. Last year, the Ontario budget included a $1.4 billion commitment to index ODSP to inflationary increases over the next three years.[6] While this was a step in the right direction, the base amount was already insufficient and far below the poverty line.  It will be crucial as the new Canada Disability Benefit is administered, that it is not clawed back from ODSP.  Similarly, OW saw no increases in its rates for the sixth year in a row. OW rates continue to be $733 a month for individuals despite inflation increasing an average of 6.5% over the last 12 months.[7] At a time when families are struggling with increased inflation and living costs, social assistance rates are 40-60% below the poverty line.[8]

The Government of Ontario must support children and families living on low incomes to do better. Budget 2024 must focus on supporting families who continue to struggle to make ends meet.  Poverty is a complex issue requiring long-term, multi-faceted interventions.  Ontario can increase its impact by including focused investments in decent work, childcare, income security, housing and public health.

Ontario Campaign 2000 recommends that the Ontario government:

1.      Prioritize Decent Work and Equity in the Workplace

a)     Increase the minimum wage to at least $20/hour and consider the implementation of living wages across Ontario. The difference between $20 and the current wage would lift many families out of poverty.

b)     Close the gender pay gap to reduce the level of poverty experienced by women. Women-led lone-parent households, racialized, Indigenous and transgender women and women with disabilities are disproportionately affected by poverty. Pay equity legislation is needed so all workers have equitable access to the labour market and are paid accordingly.

c)      Implement 10 permanent paid sick days for all workers across the province. This prevents a loss of wages due to illness-related absences, helping individuals and families maintain their financial well-being.

2.      Invest in an Adequate Childcare System

a)       Prioritize a childcare workforce strategy that allows childcare centres to operate at capacity and gives childcare workers adequate training, wages and benefits. Ontario’s childcare programs cannot operate at capacity due to recruitment and retention shortages.

b)       Implement affordable childcare fees for families that are capped at $10/day and a $0-10/day sliding scale system per family for lower-income families. While this is being developed, immediately increase access to the current subsidy system by removing barriers like work and study criteria and subsidy wait times.

c)        Implement a needs-based funding formula that provides full and sufficient public funding for licensed childcare programs.

a)       Investment into quality public and non-profit childcare spaces that strengthens the nonprofit sector’s capacity to scale up. This strategy must prioritize the expansion in underserved and low-income communities and be done in consultation and collaboration with the childcare community.

3.      Invest in Affordable and Accessible Housing

a)       Increase housing supply and access to housing by creating local housing for local households. Create new affordable housing of all types and access to safe, deeply affordable, supportive housing while prioritizing new affordable housing for those in greatest need.

b)       Prioritize and support the nonprofit and co-op housing sector to invest in the construction and development of community housing that would remain affordable long-term.

c)        Collaborate with the federal government to ensure that unfair evictions, rent increases and service decreases are proscribed by provincial statutes and that accessible enforcement mechanisms are available to tenants. All levels of government must recognize the human rights violations resulting from the financialization of purpose-built rental housing in Canada. 

d)       Support tenants by preventing unlawful evictions, eliminating vacancy decontrol and making meaningful reforms to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).

e)       Build an adequate data system for housing indicators in Ontario that captures the underlying trends and realities of tenants and individuals/households with unmet housing needs.

4.      Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

a)       Double Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates and ensure all income supports work together to bring incomes to at least the Census Family Low Income Measure, After Tax (CFLIM-AT).

b)       Invest in making access to social assistance equitable and barrier-free as the modernization process is ongoing and will require significant consultation with stakeholders, including current service recipients.

c)        Work with the federal government and provincial governments to ensure that all children have adequate and barrier-free access to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and Ontario Child Benefit (OCB). Those who do not file taxes do not have access to either the CCB or OCB, disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities and those with precarious immigration status, among others.

d)       Reinvest all clawed-back federal transfers including Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) funds into social assistance programs. The federal government designed the CERB and CRB for individuals, but the provincial government chose to claw back a significant percentage of CERB and CRB from social and disability assistance recipients, despite urging from the federal Minister of Employment and Workforce Development and community advocates.

e)       Ensure immigration status is not a barrier to eligibility for income supports or public health initiatives so that all people in Ontario can access healthcare and income supports. Immigrants and refugees face a multitude of barriers when trying to attain the bare minimum of health care in Ontario.

Contact:
Mithilen Mathipalan
Coordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000
Family Service Toronto
355 Church St., Toronto, ON M5B 0B2
416-595-9230 x 298
[email protected]

About Ontario Campaign 2000

Ontario Campaign 2000 is a provincial coalition of over 70 active partner organizations committed to eradicating child and family poverty in Ontario. Our membership is broad and diverse. It includes faith groups, members of the healthcare and community sectors serving children and families, educators, academics, racialized communities, and low-income and working families from Thunder Bay to Peel Region to Windsor. For nearly 30 years, Campaign 2000 has carefully monitored child poverty rates and related social policies at the federal and provincial levels through our annual report cards on child and family poverty. For more information, visit www.ontariocampaign2000.ca.


[1] Statistics Canada. Table 11-10-0018-01 After-tax low-income status of tax filers and dependants based on Census Family Low Income Measure (CFLIM-AT), by family type and family type composition https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1110001801.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Workers Action Centre. (2022). From the Frontlines: An Urgent Agenda for Decent Work.

From the Frontlines: An Urgent Agenda for Decent Work (workersactioncentre.org)
[5] Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. (2023). 2024 Ontario Child Care Funding: Highlights of changes. Retrieved from https://www.childcareontario.org/2024_ontario_child_care_funding_highlights_of_changes
[6] Government of Ontario. (2023). Building a Strong Ontario: 2023 Ontario Budget. Retrieved from
Building a Strong Ontario
[7] Income Security Advocacy Centre. (2023). Ontario Budget 2023: Designed to Balance the Books on the Backs of Ontario’s Poorest During a Worsening Affordability Crisis. Ontario Budget 2023: Designed to Balance the Books on the Backs of Ontario’s Poorest During a Worsening Affordability Crisis – Income Security Advocacy Centre
[8] Ibid.

Register now to the roundtable series on Poverty and Human Rights

Join Campaign 2000, Citizens for Public Justice and Canada Without Poverty for a three-part virtual roundtable series on poverty and human rights.

In 2015, Canada committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These goals are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global call to action to achieve social, economic and environmental prosperity.  Enshrined in the 2030 Agenda is a commitment “to realize human rights for all,” including economic, social and cultural rights.

The Localizing Canada’s Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals Project (SDGs Project) is developing a community-driven indicator framework for the federal government to use to measure progress towards achieving several of the SDGs, including Goal #1: No Poverty.  The SDGs Project uses principled, community-based and participatory research approaches to engage people who experience systemic marginalization and poverty, community service organizations, advocates and organizers from coast to coast to coast that will inform the measurement framework for realizing rights and ending poverty in local contexts. 

The virtual roundtable format will include presentations, guest speakers and breakout discussions and will feature those who have been engaged through the SDG’s Project.  Participants will have an opportunity to connect with organizations and individuals dedicated to ending poverty from across the country for movement-building.

Register for all three or attend when you can! 

Roundtable 1: 
June 14, 2023 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST
Connecting lived expertise to public policy: meaningful engagement as a means to advancing human rights

Roundtable 2: 
June 15, 2023 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST
Holding government to account: legal and policy levers for ending poverty

Roundtable 3: 
June 16, 2023 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. EST
Poverty-free communities are possible: strengthening the national anti-poverty movement

Learn more or register for the roundtables on Eventbrite.

To request accommodations, please contact Mithilen Mathipalan at [email protected] by June 7, 2023. The event will be live captioned and ASL and French interpretation will be available.

Ontario Campaign 2000 Responds to the 2023 Provincial Budget

In February 2023 Ontario Campaign 2000 submitted a series of budget recommendations for the 2023 Provincial Budget consultations. We called on the Province of Ontario to prioritize decent work, childcare, equitable policy-making, housing and income security free of barriers. Unfortunately, the 2023 Ontario Provincial Budget offers only small increases in these crucial areas. The budget does not meet the needs of low-income families, workers, students and vulnerable communities in this province. Download or read the submission below.

2023 Ontario Budget Response

April 2023

The 2023 Ontario Provincial Budget, Building a Strong Ontario, offers relatively small increases in critical areas, resulting in a tremendous lack of meeting the needs of low-income families, children, workers, and the most marginalized communities in this province.

Ironically, the statement of Working for you, does very little for working and marginalized communities in Ontario.

As a coalition of frontline service agencies, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects of the pandemic on communities across Ontario. The 2023 Ontario budget does not address the needs of vulnerable communities across this province, nor does it offer any long-term sustainable solutions to reducing and eradicating family and child poverty in our lifetime.

Our pre-budget recommendation submission can be found here.

Decent Work & Equity in the Workplace

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.  Increase the minimum wage to at least $20

b.  Close the gender gap

c.   Implement 10 permanent sick days

It is imperative that the Government of Ontario prioritize decent work and equity in the workplace, which would go a long way toward alleviating poverty. It is necessary to have an equitable increase to the minimum wage to at least $20. Although the government announced outside of the budget release that there will be an increase in the minimum wage from $15.50 to $16.55/hour on Oct 1st, we know that this is nowhere close to an equitable living wage. Inflation has increased but wages have not increased accordingly.

We applaud that the budget noted that the provincial government will expand support for the Young Entrepreneurs program by providing an additional $2 million in 2023-24 to Futurpreneur Canada, which will address unique economic barriers facing youth and women. However, we have seen time and time again that Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the income gap. The Ontario 2023 budget makes no reference to wage disparities and to closing the gender pay gap as a primary economic barrier for diverse women.

The 2023 provincial budget did not address the longstanding call for ten employer-paid sick days, rather we saw the regressive move to remove the current three sick-day program. This leaves workers with a lack of basic labour protection.

The Needs of Parents & Fortifying the Childcare System

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.  Increase the financial assistance allotted for children in Ontario

b.  Address the childcare workforce crisis

$13.2 billion has been jointly invested through the federal-provincial bilateral agreement on Early Learning and Childcare that has reduced parent fees by 50% in the last year.  This budget re-commits to further reducing those fees to an average of $10 per day, a significant gain for families who already had access to childcare. Of the 86,000 new childcare spaces the province has promised by December 2026, 33,000 new licensed childcare spaces have been created.

Despite the urgent call from advocates, staff and operators to address the childcare workforce crisis, the budget offers no changes to this problem. We commend the government’s attempt to expand childcare spaces, but this will be futile without a workforce strategy focused on retention and the rights of childcare workers.

Of critical importance will be a plan to ensure access to children from low-income systemically marginalized communities. This plan must include a 0-$10 a day sliding scale model, where $10 is the maximum childcare model as proposed in the Campaign 2000 annual report cards. $10 a day childcare is out of reach for many families on low income.  Childhood poverty is linked to ill health and negative developmental outcomes. However, studies show that access to high-quality early learning and childcare can act as protective factors from the harmful effects of poverty and as equalizers, improving long-term developmental and employment outcomes for children. It will be essential for the province to create an expansion plan that ensures access to the new early learning and childcare system without discrimination for children from systemically marginalized groups, including children with disabilities, without permanent immigration status, who are First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Black, racialized and newcomers, and all low-income children.

Making Policy & Funding Decisions Based on Meeting the Needs of the Most Vulnerable

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.  Implement an intersectional and human rights-based analysis

b.  Collect disaggregated data

Campaign 2000 called for the implementation of an intersectional and human rights-based analysis framework when developing policies and budgets. Yet, there was no mention of the implementation of an intersectional framework nor a commitment to the collection of disaggregated data that would aid in providing an understanding of critical areas/communities that need to be prioritized.

We commend the government’s commitment to increasing supportive housing for Ontario’s most vulnerable and the province’s investment of an additional $15 million over three years for the Racialized and Indigenous Support for Entrepreneurs (RAISE) grant program that includes support for Indigenous, Black and other racialized people. Programs such as these are vital for uplifting marginalized communities, but there is still a need for a disaggregated data collection and intersectional analysis across all budget investments, program implementation and evaluation to prioritize and meet the needs of Ontario’s marginalized communities.

Develop & Implement an Equitable Housing Strategy

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.  Investment into the construction of affordable rental properties

b.  Increase the supply of supportive housing

c.  Fund programs that prevent unlawful evictions

d.  Develop an urban, rural & northern Indigenous housing strategy

Campaign 2000, alongside many housing advocates, recommended that there should be an investment into the construction of affordable rental properties to ensure affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. The Provincial government must prioritize and support the nonprofit and co-op housing sector to invest in the construction and development of community housing that would remain affordable in the long term. This must be coupled with an investment into a long-term Portable Housing Benefit that would ensure marginalized communities can maintain their housing as rent increases.

In regards to increasing the supply of supportive housing, we commend the province on its announcement of investing $202 million each year in Homelessness prevention programs and Indigenous supportive housing programs. As the homelessness and mental health crisis grows in this province, this was a critical step for the government to take to provide adequate shelters and supports for those unhoused and in need of critical mental health services. Unfortunately, there was no mention of developing an urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy required to address the housing needs and systemic inequities facing Indigenous communities in Ontario.

The province has agreed to invest $24 million over three years to clear long-standing backlogs at the Landlord Tenant board. However, without interventions that include strengthening the Residential Tenancies Act, significant rent control and penalties for illegal evictions, renters and tenants will not be able to attain secure and affordable housing and this move will only serve to help landlords.

Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

In our pre-budget submission, we recommended the following;

a.  Substantially invest in rate increases in Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

b.  Reinvest all clawed-back CERB and CRB funds into social assistance programs

c.  Ensure immigration status is not a barrier to eligibility for income supports or public health

The budget included a $1.4 billion commitment to index Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to inflationary increases over the next three years, which supports the announcement put forward by the province in August 2022. Unfortunately, this is an underwhelming increase as the base amount was already insufficient and far below the poverty line.

There was no change for the 400,000 Ontarians that access Ontario Works (OW) social assistance. The maximum amount a single adult on OW receives is $733/month, an amount that has not increased since 2018. This leaves social assistance recipients in legislated poverty, which constitutes a violation of their human rights to an adequate standard of living. We urge the province to immediately increase both OW and ODSP so that these programs work together with other available benefits to bring incomes up to the Low Income Measure. Additionally, we echo the recommendation from the ODSP Action Coalition to implement an overpayment amnesty for any social assistance clients who may have received federal-related pandemic benefits and subsequently were deemed ineligible for the federal benefit.

Campaign 2000 recommended that the Provincial Government must ensure that immigration status is not a barrier to the eligibility of public health initiatives. Unfortunately, there was no reference to this in this year’s budget release. All people in Ontario, regardless of immigration status require access to health care. Currently, people without status face many obstacles in attaining minimum healthcare in Ontario, including access to Ontario Health Insurance Plan coverage (OHIP). The province must work with the Ministry of Health to guarantee that healthcare is not a barrier for those trying to access their basic rights.

Contact:
Mithilen MathipalanCoordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000

Family Service Toronto
355 Church St., Toronto, ON M5B 0B2
416-595-9230 x 298
[email protected]

About Ontario Campaign 2000

Ontario Campaign 2000 is a provincial coalition of over 70 active partner organizations committed to eradicating child and family poverty in Ontario. Our membership is broad and diverse. It includes faith groups, members of the healthcare and community sectors serving children and families, educators, academics, racialized communities, and low-income and working families from Thunder Bay to Peel Region to Windsor. For nearly 30 years, Campaign 2000 has carefully monitored child poverty rates and related social policies at the federal and provincial levels through our annual report cards on child and family poverty. For more information, visit www.ontariocampaign2000.ca.

 

Poverty in the Midst of COVID-19

Ontario Campaign 2000 releases its annual report on child and family poverty, Poverty in the Midst of COVID-19: A report card on child and family poverty in Ontario in 2020, authored by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Ontario.

This year’s report card examines the correlation between lowered child and family poverty rates in 2020 and COVID-related assistance. The number of children in poverty in Ontario fell from 498,600 to 377,040 between 2019-2020, largely as a result of temporary federal assistance. 

This report examines some of the critical factors that contribute to heightened levels of poverty and underscores the need for immediate action and sustainable support for low-income and marginalized communities. They include:

  • Provincial social assistance rates that keep individuals and families in deep poverty
  • Low minimum-wage rates that keep full-time workers below the poverty line
  • Disproportionately higher poverty rates among Indigenous and racialized communities 
  • Higher poverty rates among lone-parent families, particularly those led by women

It is a critical moment in the history of this province to tackle poverty. We know that Ontario is capable of building an effective social safety net and providing children and their families with the economic security they need. The pandemic has shown that governments can do big things much more quickly than we ever thought—if they decide to.  

Want to read more? 
English Ontario Report Card, Interactive Maps of Child Poverty in Ontario, Press Release in English and in French  

Ontario Campaign 2000 Submits Provincial Pre-Budget 2023 Recommendations

Ontario Campaign 2000 has submitted a series of budget recommendations for the 2023 Provincial Budget consultations. We call on the Province of Ontario to prioritize and invest in decent work, childcare, equitable policy-making, housing and income security free of barriers. Download or read the submission below.

2023 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission

Ontario Campaign 2000 Recommendations for Ontario Budget 2023:

1.      Decent Work & Equity in the Workplace

2.      Immediately Address the Needs of Parents & Fortify Childcare Systems

3.      Make Policy & Funding Decisions Based on Meeting the Needs of the Most Vulnerable

4.      Develop & Implement an Equitable Housing Strategy

5.      Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

As a coalition of frontline service agencies, we have seen first-hand the devastating effects of the pandemic on communities across Ontario. The 2023 Budget must address the needs of vulnerable communities across this province. Federal pandemic income support measures reduced poverty for low-income workers who could access those benefits, however, there was no additional support provided for people who rely on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). In September 2022, the provincial government increased ODSP rates by five percent, providing a total of $1227 per month for individuals. This amount remains completely inadequate, the benefit is not indexed to inflation, nor does it lift families and individuals out of poverty. Of concern is the lack of any increase to the OW program. For many people living on low incomes in Ontario, the end of federal pandemic supports, insufficient minimum wages and record-high inflation is sending individuals and families into crisis. The rate of inflation in Ontario reached 6.9% in 2022[i] and as a result, food and housing insecurity are becoming even more of a widespread crisis.

Children and families who got a slight break from the ongoing effects of poverty in 2020 at the start of the pandemic are more likely to be struggling again. Data from 2021 suggests that 16.1% of households in Ontario are food insecure[ii]. As food insecurity increases, a family’s ability to attain necessities like housing and medication are also compromised.

For many, the job market continues to be a primary barrier. Low wages, unequal pay for equal work, discrimination and a lack of basic benefits like paid sick days are adding to keeping families and workers in a state of outright poverty. Job losses have hit part-time and low-wage workers in Ontario particularly hard, many of whom are disproportionately Black and racialized women[iii]. While job creation is important, investments in responsive provincial services and programs that support labour market participation will also be key for supporting families.

Children experience poverty because their families experience poverty. The Ontario government must not sit back and leave children and families living on low incomes to suffer. Budget 2023 must face its responsibility to everyone in Ontario head-on and focus on supporting families who were struggling before the pandemic and were made more vulnerable because of it.  Learning from the pandemic and making the right interventions now can help accelerate the rate of poverty reduction in Ontario and positively impact generations to come.

Ontario Campaign 2000 recommends that the Ontario government:

1. Prioritize Decent Work and Equity in the Workplace

a) Increase the minimum wage to at least $20 per hour and consider the implementation of a living wage across regions. The difference between $20 and the current wage would lift many out of poverty. Inflation has increased but wages have not increased accordingly.

b) Close the gender pay gap to reduce the level of poverty amongst women. Indigenous women, racialized women and women with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the income gap. Pay equity legislation is needed so that all workers have equitable access to the labour market and are paid accordingly.

c) Implement 10 permanent sick days for all workers in the province of Ontario. Federal legislation Bill C-3 allows for industries covered by Federal labour laws to have access to 10 paid sick days. The Province of Ontario must follow suit and implement similar legislation for workers in Ontario.

2. Immediately Address the Needs of Parents & Fortify Childcare Systems

a) Increase the financial assistance allotted for children in Ontario like the Ontario Child Benefit, Ontario Child Disability Benefit and Transition Child Benefit. Benefits such as these are key to eliminating child and family poverty in this province, and research shows that income transfers such as these result in better health and well-being for children[iv].

b) Address the childcare workforce crisis as Ontario’s childcare programs cannot operate at capacity due to recruitment and retention shortage. Although the Federal and Provincial governments have agreed to reduce childcare fees by 50%, this will not be effective without implementing a workforce strategy focused on retention and the rights of childcare workers.  As fees are reduced, demand for space will increase.  The Ontario government must develop a strategy to address demand and expansion.  All expansion must be public and not-for-profit.

3. Make Policy & Funding Decisions Based on Meeting the Needs of the Most Vulnerable

a) Implement an Intersectional and Human Rights Based Analysis to inform all policies, programs and budget decision-making.

b) Collect disaggregated data and use that data to inform and support equitable program planning and funding. Augment quantitative data with meaningful, frequent and ongoing community consultation with people affected by poverty.

4. Develop & Implement an Equitable Housing Strategy

a) Investment into the construction of affordable rental properties that will ensure affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. Prioritize the construction of non-market affordable housing over luxury rentals that are unattainable to low- and middle-income individuals and families with government-mandated conditions.

b) Increase the supply of Supportive Housing.  As the homelessness and mental health crisis grow in this province, it is imperative that the province works with necessary ministries to provide adequate and stable shelters and supports for those that are unhoused and dealing with mental health crises.

c)  Fund programs that prevent unlawful evictions. We support Ontario for All’s recommendation to support efforts to enforce eviction laws and implement programs that prevent unlawful evictions. The current rent control system in the province does not protect affordability once a unit is vacant, resulting in the evictions of new tenants that are not able to afford exuberant rental rates[v]. Enforcing eviction laws and protecting the rights of tenants will preserve affordability.

d) Develop an Urban, Rural & Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy led by Indigenous communities across the province. Investment in Indigenous housing must be a priority by the Provincial and Federal government to address the housing needs and systemic inequities facing Indigenous communities.

5. Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

a) Substantially invest in rate increases to Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and ensure all income benefits work together to bring incomes up to at least the Census Family Low Income Measure, After Tax (CFLIM-AT)[vi]. People who are not connected to the labour market must not be pushed into poverty with inadequate income supports and people living with disabilities must be able to meet all of their needs with additional supports. Ensure proper investment into Ontario’s Social Benefits Tribunal, which governs the appeal process for social assistance in Ontario.

b) Reinvest all clawed-back Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) funds into social assistance programs. The federal government designed the CERB and CRB for individuals, but the provincial government chose to claw back a significant percentage of CERB and CRB from social and disability assistance recipients, despite urging from the federal Minister of Employment and Workforce Development and community advocates. 100% of clawed-back funds must be reinvested into social assistance programs.

c) Ensure immigration status is not a barrier to eligibility for income supports or public health initiatives so that all people in Ontario can access healthcare and income supports. Immigrants and refugees face a multitude of barriers when trying to attain the bare minimum of health care in Ontario. Several health issues are not covered by OHIP; hence many must opt for private insurance, unfortunately, private insurance is expensive, and many cannot afford to get it.

 

Contact: Mithilen Mathipalan
Coordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000

Family Service Toronto
355 Church St., Toronto, ON M5B 0B2
416-595-9230 x 298
[email protected]

 

 

About Ontario Campaign 2000

Ontario Campaign 2000 is a provincial coalition of over 70 active partner organizations committed to eradicating child and family poverty in Ontario. Our membership is broad and diverse. It includes faith groups, members of the healthcare and community sectors serving children and families, educators, academics, racialized communities, and low-income and working families from Thunder Bay to Peel Region to Windsor. For nearly 30 years, Campaign 2000 has carefully monitored child poverty rates and related social policies at the federal and provincial levels through our annual report cards on child and family poverty. For more information, visit www.ontariocampaign2000.ca.



[i] Statistics Canada, Table 18-10-0004-01 “Consumer Price Index, not seasonally adjusted,” 2022, www150.statcan.gc.ca.
[ii] Tarasuk V, Li T, Fafard St-Germain AA. (2022) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2021. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF).
[iii] Sheila Block and Grace-Edward Galabuzi. (2018). “Persistent Inequality: Ontario’s Colour-coded Labour Market,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Pg 7.
[iv] Milligan, Kevin, and Mark Stabile. (2011) “Do Child Tax Benefits Affect the Well-Being of Children? Evidence from Canadian Child Benefit Expansions.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 3 (3): 175-205.
[v] Ontario for All. “GTA Nonprofit Sector Joint 2023 Ontario Budget Submission”
[vi] Statistics Canada (2022). Technical Reference Guide for the Annual Income Estimates for Census Families, Individuals and Seniors. T1 Family File, Final Estimates, 2020, Table F.

 


Poverty in the Midst of Plenty

Ontario Campaign 2000 released the 2021 Report on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario Poverty in the Midst of Plenty. The report was produced in cooperation with Campaign 2000, a national coalition of 120 organizations devoted to ending child and family poverty, and it calls on governments to treat poverty reduction as an urgent priority.

While Ontario is a wealthy province in a wealthy country, the child poverty remains a pressing social concern in every community. The report shows that in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, one in six children across the province lived with the day-to-day reality of never having enough. Half a million children still lived in poverty in 2019 despite recent progress which brought the child poverty rate from 23.4% in 2013 to 17.6% in 2019.

View the interactive map of Canada showing child poverty rates by federal riding.
Read: Poverty in the Midst of Plenty: 2021 English Ontario Report Card and Press Release;
French versions: La pauvreté au cœr de l’abondance and Press Release

Children and Families Deserve Better: Budget 2021 Response

While the COVID-19 pandemic rages into a third wave in Ontario, Budget 2021 – “Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy” – reads as a response to only some of the challenges of the 2020 pandemic, and not the 2021 pandemic which Ontario is currently experiencing. It does not address deepening challenges faced by low income families, who have endured increased stress, illness, and instability in their homes and workplaces for over a year.

Budget 2021 includes a reliance on federal funding, multiple funding re-announcements, and one-time investments which will still be needed into and beyond 2022. While some notable short-term investments to alleviate poverty for some children and families are included, overall, the budget does not address the core factors contributing to family poverty, economic and wealth inequality.

Budget 2021 states: The government’s continuing efforts to meet the needs of vulnerable populations including Indigenous, racially diverse, newcomer and low‐income communities is a measure that benefits all of Ontario. It is only when every community has effective measures of prevention, protection and control of COVID‐19 that Ontario can beat this virus.

In a budget that favours tax credits, tax cuts, and investments in business over investments in the medium and long-term needs of women, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, urban and rural Indigenous Peoples, single parent families, racialized people, low wage workers, people with disabilities, and families who face marginalization due to poverty and discrimination, this statement rings hollow.

Children and families living in poverty deserve better.

Click here to read the whole response, including analysis of Budget 2021’s investments in and policy directions for Equity-Related Policies, Childcare, Housing, Income Security, Service modernization and digital access, and Work & Employment Standards.

Ontario Pre-Budget Submission, February 2021

Ontarians are still grappling with the effects of the pandemic in real time. After a strong start to pandemic response in April 2020, the Fall budget focused heavily on supports for businesses. For many people living on low incomes in Ontario, the tapering off of individual federal supports and continued fluctuation in employment has created a worse situation today than earlier on in the pandemic. While job creation is important, investments in responsive provincial services and programs that support labour market participation will also be key for an inclusive recovery. Making the right interventions now can help accelerate the rate of family and child poverty reduction in Ontario and positively impact generations to come.

Ontario Campaign 2000 provides the following recommendations for Budget 2021:

1. Make Decisions Based on Meeting the Needs of the Most Vulnerable

2. Address the Financial Needs of Parents & Fortify the Childcare and Education Systems

3. Help Ontarians Stay Home

4. Solidify Safety Nets & Remove Barriers

5. Focus on Improving Employment Standards Alongside Job Creation

Read the full Ontario February 2021 Budget submission