Ontario Building a Better Future for People Living in Poverty
Ontario has made significant progress on reaching the target to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 25 percent. Progress has also been made in decreasing the number of children living in deep poverty by over 37 percent.
That is just one major achievement in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Annual Report for 2017, which highlights progress made by the province in lifting people out of poverty in 2017.
The 2014-2019 Poverty Reduction Strategy, Realizing Our Potential, aims to create a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve their full potential and contribute to a prosperous and healthy Ontario. Other highlights of the progress made in achieving that goal in 2017 include:
- Introducing a Basic Income Pilot to test whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes, and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario’s economic growth.
- Investing in 48 new community projects — including Indigenous-led initiatives — to help find new solutions to poverty, increase food security, and end homelessness.
- Increasing access to early years and child care programs and services, including helping 100,000 more children aged 0-4 access licensed child care over five years.
- Delivering publicly funded, child-centred and developmentally appropriate learning to 260,000 four- and five-year-olds through full-day kindergarten, saving Ontario families up to $6,500 per child, per year in child care costs and helping parents balance work and caregiving responsibilities.
- Providing healthy meals and snacks to 812,500 children in schools across the province, as well as in over 120 educational settings in 63 First Nation communities, through the Student Nutrition Program.
- Providing access to free preventive, routine, and emergency dental services for approximately 470,000 children and youth 17 years old and under from low-income households through Healthy Smiles Ontario.
- Helping approximately 32,300 households experiencing homelessness to obtain housing and approximately 125,500 households at-risk of homelessness to remain in their homes through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative.
- Breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness for up to 6,000 individuals and families by providing new supportive housing spaces as well as funding for housing assistance and support services.
The province will continue to build on this progress while exploring new ways to lift people out of poverty, so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to and participate in a prosperous and inclusive Ontario. This includes:
- Making preschool child care free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten, saving a family with one child $17,000, on average, and building on the savings families get from full-day kindergarten.
- Making prescriptions free for everyone 65 and over through OHIP+, ensuring that no senior ever needs to go without necessary drugs, and saving the average Ontario senior $240 per year. This expansion of OHIP+ follows the introduction of free prescriptions for everyone under the age of 25 on January 1, 2018.
- Introducing a new Ontario Drug and Dental Program, reimbursing up $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four with two children, of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year, for those without workplace health benefits or not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs.
The government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
“This report highlights what we can achieve as a province when we work together. We are finding new ways to support people in Ontario by bringing partners together to identify local, sustainable approaches to reducing poverty while making the most of our resources. But there is still much more work to be done. As we move forward, we will build on the results in this report and continue to pursue our targets so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”