Barrett calls for action on poverty

Sept. 3, 2014

SIMCOE – In the wake of the government releasing its second five-year anti-poverty strategy, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett questioned what will truly be done to assist the less fortunate in society.

“The bottom line is over the past 10 years, the poverty rate has gone up, the use of food banks has gone up, and the number of people on ODSP and Ontario Works has gone up dramatically,” he said. “The Liberals failed to reach their targets in their first anti-poverty strategy, and now they have announced a new strategy with no targets.”

While he was critic for the Ministry of Community Services, Barrett authored a White Paper with several suggested actions to tackle poverty in Ontario. He pointed out over the past decade spending on social services has increased by 67 per cent to reach $10 billion per year, but yet the problems continue to increase.

“I see the Liberals have brought out a new poverty reduction strategy – what happened to the old strategy – it didn’t work,” Barrett said. “We need action that will make a difference for those truly in need.”

In 2010, Barrett introduced Bill 23, legislation that would have allowed ODSP recipients who are able to work part-time to keep more of their earned income without being penalized through clawbacks in their ODSP payments. The bill did not pass, but the concept was kept alive in Barrett’s brief.

Many of the suggestions in the White Paper echoed recommendations from the government’s own reports on transforming social services. Advice to government on social services has been authored by Frances Lankin, Don Drummond and Gail Nyberg.

“We have enough reports,” Barrett said. “This issue has been studied to death, but this government is not taking action. In the meantime, people are suffering and life is not getting better for the less fortunate.”

He added that since the election, the new government has started to establish a pattern of blaming its inadequacies on the federal government. Not fulfilling its anti-poverty strategy and throwing the blame at Ottawa is just another example, Barrett said.

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For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446