The next provincial budget could not come at a more critical time. What Ontario’s provincial government does now to stave off the worst of a recession and protect the vulnerable has the potential to make an immediate and lasting difference in the lives of Ontarians and, ultimately, on the health of the nation’s economy.
A Blueprint for Economic Stimulus and Poverty Reduction in Ontario argues that making good on the province’s commitment to reduce child poverty by 25 per cent in the next five years is key to addressing the economic challenges facing Ontario today.
It recommends key investments during the next two years in social infrastructure and public programs that do double duty of stimulating the economy at a time when we need it most and tackling poverty when the need is highest.
The Blueprint is the result of consultations in 30 Ontario communities with people living in low income policy experts, civic leaders, and community agencies. The Blueprint shows how Ontario’s next budget can stimulate the economy and make progress on reducing poverty by 25 per cent in the next five years.
Among its recommendations, the Blueprint calls for immediate investments in areas such as:
- A $100 monthly Healthy Food Supplement to help all adults on social assistance access healthier food;
- A Housing Benefit to help low-income renters meet the rising cost of housing;
- An increase to the Ontario Child Benefit to $92 a month in the 2009 budget and $125 a month in the 2010 budget to protect families and their children during the economic downturn and beyond;
- Building 7,500 new affordable child care spaces, crucial to supporting parents who need to work and retrain for the demands of a changing economy;
- Leveraging the expected federal infrastructure dollars to build more affordable housing.
In the first year, the Blueprint calls for an investment of $2.4 billion in social infrastructure and public programs, with a $2.6 billion commitment next year.
This investment represents only 2.7 percent of Ontario’s 2008-09 program expenditures and less than half of one percent of Ontario’s GDP.
All spending that is recommended is stimulative. It is directed to infrastructure investments or low-income individuals and families. Almost half is directed to infrastructure investment, which will help our economy recover and will not contribute to a structural deficit.