Comprehensive poverty plan is needed now – Opinion/letter – Comprehensive poverty plan is needed now
December 01, 2008

Re:Gifts provide a warm welcome in a hostile city, Nov. 30

It is unfortunate and heartbreaking that a Regent Park single-mother is already concerned about how she will be able to afford Christmas gifts for her children in 2009. Although the Star’s Santa Claus fund is an admirable program, stories such as this one point to the desperate need for the government of Ontario to properly deliver on their poverty reduction strategy this month.

It is important that such a strategy is not diluted due to the province’s current economic struggles, because such a watered down plan will inevitably lead to greater rates of poverty, especially among those who are already marginalized.

Given that poverty in Toronto has become increasingly racialized and feminized, women such as this single mother, who are visible minorities and on social assistance, are in dire need for provincial policy changes that reflect their growing needs. Current social assistance rates are abysmal as they are not indexed to inflation, and the penalizing rules and regulations that govern the distribution of welfare hinders the ability of individuals to move from welfare to work.

Here’s hoping that McGuinty and his government introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction plan that provides individuals like this mother with access to equitable employment, education, childcare and housing, and ensures that those unemployed and unable to provide for themselves and their families have enough of a safety net to pick themselves up again.

Sidonia Couto, Toronto

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