ISARC Statement on the 2014 Provincial Election

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May 8, 2014

Ontario’s Real Scandal: over 1 Million People Living in Poverty
Yet Progressive Budget Not Supported

More than a million Ontarians struggle every day for food, decent housing and other basic needs—yet a crucial opportunity to help them was squandered with the defeat of Ontario’s 2014 budget.

That’s the key issue facing Ontarians in the provincial election, say faith groups, working together through the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC). And it’s why ISARC is mobilizing people of faith across Ontario in a non-partisan campaign to see through empty campaign rhetoric and instead “vote to end poverty.”

“We are perplexed that the Opposition parties were able to support an austerity budget in 2012, yet were unwilling to support a progressive budget in 2014 that raised social assistance rates, indexed the minimum wage, increased the Ontario Child Benefit, provided affordable housing funds, and raised wages for many low-income workers,” says the Rev. Susan Eagle, the coalition’s Chair. “We challenge both Opposition parties to tell us, the people of Ontario, what exactly they oppose in the 2014 budget and how they plan to reduce poverty.”

ISARC represents Ontario’s major faith communities and has been promoting public policies to reduce poverty and bring dignity to marginalized Ontarians for more than 30 years.

The coalition reminds candidates and voters that all three main parties approved Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Act in 2009. It calls on candidates of all parties to honour that commitment by supporting policies that make a real, positive difference in the lives of Ontarians living in poverty. Let’s ask candidates the following questions:

– Does your party support raising the minimum wage above the poverty line? A minimum wage of $14/hour would lift full-time workers 10% above that line.
– Will your party raise social assistance rates for single individuals on Ontario Works by $100 per month? Will your party increase rates by 5% for other social assistance recipients?
– Emergency dental care for low-income adults costs Ontarians $30 million a year. Will your party provide preventive dental care for low-income adults?
– Will your party match federal funding for new affordable housing? Will your party invest in the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative?
– Will your party support indexation of the Ontario Child Benefit to help low-income families?
– Will your party raise taxes on affluent Ontarians and corporations to provide the revenue needed for these and other measures to help low-income Ontarians?

“ISARC’s faith communities work with people struggling for survival and know that we need to tackle poverty at its roots,” says Rev. Eagle. “Let’s push for the policies needed in this election. Let’s vote for a poverty-free Ontario.”

For further information contact:
The Rev. Susan Eagle, 705-817-3402
Elin Goulden, ISARC Coordinator, 647-206-2485