War on poverty dealt blow

TheStar.com – comment/letters – War on poverty dealt blow
May 01, 2008

Re: Rent bank runs out of money – April 30

I am confused and angry at the contradiction in policy in Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government. I thought the government was planning on fighting poverty, and now it appears to be abandoning one of its more important anti-poverty programs: the funding of rent banks.

Perhaps if the Liberals had stuck to their promise of returning rent control to Ontario’s 1.3 million tenant households, tenants would not be so reliant on this program.

The government must recommit to this program and even increase funding if it wants to show that it’s serious about fighting poverty and helping vulnerable people.

Barbara Hurd, Toronto

I was dismayed to hear that rent banks will not be funded by the provincial government for 2008-09. This program has been essential in preventing homelessness for families that fall on difficult times.

I continue to be flabbergasted that our three levels of government continue to underfund and/or cut programs that prevent homelessness or create affordable housing. Where is the compassion?

Housing is a right, not a privilege.

Serena Coy, Addiction Therapist, CAMH, Toronto

In Simcoe County, the rent bank ran out last November and has not received any additional funds. All six community-based housing services in the county are now dealing with evictions that could have been avoided through rent bank funds. The long-term costs of homelessness are far greater than the amounts expended through the rent bank.

Gail Michalenko, Collingwood, Ont.

As a property superintendent, I have observed tenants using the rent bank and avoiding possible evictions. Usually the rent bank is the last resort for these tenants, who are facing financial difficulties and have seen their other resources run dry.

I strongly support this program and would like the provincial government to keep funding it.

Irfan Aslam, Toronto

Re: Kids come first in poverty war, minister says – April 29

If kids come first, why is Queen’s Park taking away money dedicated to children’s needs? Until 2007, the children of families on social assistance received a back-to-school allowance in August and a winter clothing allowance in November. They were inadequate, but not enough is better than nothing at all.

That will be proven this year, when families will receive nothing at all. The lump-sum payment that used to be paid at the beginning of August and November has been “rolled” into the changes that are coming to social assistance. So instead, parents will be expected to save up money from the “increase” – $10 or $20 more per month, for most families – and buy school supplies and winter clothing for.

No one has explained how any money will be saved this year, since the changes begin in August. There are going to be a lot of cold kids without supplies in school this fall.

Chris Cosby, Toronto

My family is one of the thousands in Ontario that will experience a drastic reduction in benefits starting in July. While the framework was positive, the actual funding for the Ontario Child Benefit will leave us struggling to cover basic necessities. This new strategy will not help the poorest families; in fact, it will further marginalize children.

In a country as affluent as Canada, no child should be deprived of the basic necessities of life. I’m disgusted with our premier, his government and his utter lack of concern for the children in this province.

Erika Klein, Newmarket

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