Hot! Ontario poverty rate up since last election – news/Canada
Published On Fri Jun 17 2011.    Laurie Monsebraaten, Social Justice Reporter

Almost 300,000 more Ontarians sunk into poverty since the McGuinty government was elected in 2007 on a pledge to fight the problem, according to the latest Statistics Canada income data from 2009 released this week.

Despite the 2008 recession that battered Ontario industries, the province’s 13.1 per cent poverty rate was still slightly below the national average of 13.3 per cent, says Ontario’s Social Planning Network. The network of social planning councils crunched the numbers using the Low Income Measure, after taxes, the province’s new method of measuring poverty.

But Ontario’s 17 per cent growth in poverty since 2007 was the highest in the country, the group says.

Almost 1.7 million Ontarians are living in poverty, including almost 400,000 children, according to the StatsCan data.

Using the Low Income Measure, an Ontario family of four living on $37,164 or less was considered poor in 2008.

The McGuinty Liberals introduced a poverty reduction act in 2009 aimed at cutting child poverty by 25 per cent by 2014.

“Although measures to end child and family poverty need to be maintained and strengthened, the rate of poverty among working-age adults, seniors and adults living alone is entrenched and growing rapidly,” said network chair Janet Gasparini. “A comprehensive strategy to end poverty among all parts of the population is sorely needed to stem and reverse this direction.”

The rise in poverty was lowest among children at 3.5 per cent, said the network. However poverty increased by almost 20 per cent among working-age adults and a staggering 42 per cent among seniors.

Although the growth in seniors’ poverty is alarming, the proportion of seniors living in poverty is still the lowest at less than 9 per cent, it noted.

“The overall upward trend is all the more reason that poverty eradication must be put on the agenda for this provincial election,” said retired Ryerson University social work professor Marvyn Novick.

Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten, responsible for poverty reduction, acknowledged “there is more work to be done.” But she said the province has made significant progress since the 2008 recession, one of the worst global economic downturns in recent memory.

Since 2008, child poverty went down from 15.2 per cent to 14.6 per cent, lifting 19,000 children out of poverty, she noted.

Also, a single mother with a young child, working full-time at minimum wage now lives above the poverty line in Ontario, Broten added.

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