01/21/2009

Government Makes a Difference: Working Together Towards Poverty Reduction A Discussion Paper by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA).January 2009.
Like many jurisdictions, until recently, Ontario experienced unprecedented economic growth. Even then, almost one in six children was growing up in poverty, while 132,000 of Ontario’s children relied on food banks 1. During unprecedented economic growth, Ontario’s most vulnerable were unable to change their fortunes. In light of the current economic environment, investing in community makes sense. The efforts to do so must be expanded and not retracted with all orders of government coordinating efforts to invest in our communities.

Municipalities understand first hand the effects of poverty. We see it as people in our communities struggle to earn a living wage or find and keep suitable housing, visit food banks or in children who go to school hungry. The current economic situation does not mean that the efforts to reduce poverty need to be abandoned or slowed down -- it just means, that how we approach poverty reduction may need to be adjusted. It also means that the Poverty Reduction Strategy is more important than ever. Tackling poverty is a key to both economic and social development.

The Government’s commitment to addressing and reducing poverty is a critical and necessary step and must be applauded. Communities have been hard hit with downsizing, layoffs and corollary related job reductions in the automobile manufacturing, and resource sectors. The time for accelerated action is now. Investment in our communities and local poverty reduction initiatives will provide an important economic stimulus and support poverty reduction.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association have joined to discuss and provide examples of how municipalities can reduce poverty in their communities.