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Some Analysis of the Provincial Budget

March 31, 2011 Poverty Reduction

My pre-budget optimism has faded after a better look at the provincial budget which was presented on Tuesday March 29th. Here is what some advocates have to say.

With regard to affordable housing Michael Shapcott of the Wellesley Institute (http://wellesleyinstitute.com/) writes that “the annual operating budget of the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is slated to drop by 10% in the coming year to a total of $602 million; and capital investments will be cut from $660.7 million to $95.1 million.

Shapcott continues: “A significant portion of housing spending in Ontario on both the capital and operating sides comes from federal transfers – and as federal housing investments erode, then overall provincial spending declines.”

The Wellesley Institute notes that the Ontario government has tended to follow the federal lead on housing issues for much of the past two decades and while the Ontario budget 2011 says that the province is continuing to negotiate with the federal government for new housing funding the future isn’t looking good.

The Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) is also disappointed http://www.incomesecurity.org/.

ISAC notes that the budget “did nothing to free people relying on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) from the poverty traps built into those programs.”

A one percent increase in social assistance is indeed sad with inflation running at around 2.5.

ISAC says that the new Ontario Trillium Benefit which restructures tax credit payments for low-income people is a good move. Starting in July of 2012 low-income people will receive sales, energy, and property tax credits in one monthly payment giving more regularity to their income.

“But more assistance needs to be given to the many low-income people who can't or don’t file income tax returns, leading them to miss out on these benefits,” the Clinic argues.

The 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction (http://25in5.ca/) laments the government’s failure to include stabilization funding for child care.

“As a result, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (http://www.childcareontario.org) warns of rising parent fees, cuts in services, and closure of child care centres,” 25 in 5 says.

Further with food bank usage 28% increase in food bank use since the 2008 recession “(N)othing in the Ontario budget will help to address this growing hunger problem, and we fear these numbers will continue to rise,” 25 in 5 believes.

I’m not sure now why I was optimistic about the budget.

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