Anti-poverty groups seek billions in Ont. budget
TORONTO - Anti-poverty activists want the Ontario government to invest billions of dollars in "social infrastructure and public programs" in its March budget.
The Canadian Press has obtained a draft copy of a report prepared for the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction that warns the poor will be hit harder than anyone by the recession.
The report, to be released Thursday, calls on the province to invest $2.4 billion this year and $2.6 billion next year on social programs, or roughly 2.7 per cent of Ontario's gross domestic product.
It recommends a $100 monthly healthy food supplement to help adults on welfare or disability support payments, plus increased social assistance payments in the Ontario Child Benefit.
The report also calls for a new housing benefit to help low-income renters meet the high cost of housing, and says the province needs to build 7,500 new affordable child-care spaces.
Premier Dalton McGuinty had promised to start his government's anti-poverty agenda with the spring budget, but also warned he won't be able to go as far and as fast as first planned because of the economic downturn.