Pages

September 29, 2014

Poverty Reduction Mandate

On September 25, 2014, the Government of Kathleen Wynne made public the Mandate letters given to each Cabinet Minister. Mandate letters outline key priorities for each Minister.

Deb Matthews has been appointed President of the Treasury Board. She has also been named Minister Responsible for leading Ontario's second Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Here are the instructions to Minister Matthews related to the PRS.

Leading the Poverty Reduction Strategy

As President of the Treasury Board, you will appreciate just how important reducing homelessness and poverty are to the province. Homelessness costs Ontario’s economy. Investments in housing can mean savings down the road because people are healthier, more ready for employment, and participating in the community. As we look for ways to make the most of public investments, it becomes clear that human resources are the province’s most valuable asset in overcoming its fiscal challenges. When you leave no one behind, you arrive at a new destination stronger than ever.
Strategic decisions about our investments must be informed by our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our province. Building on our government’s work under the first strategy, I am honoured to appoint you as Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy and I ask that you oversee the implementation of Ontario’s new Poverty Reduction Strategy: Realizing Our Potential.
Your leadership on this file will include working with our community, businesses and not-for-profit partners to achieve better outcomes for Ontarians living in poverty. Working with your minister colleagues, I ask that you focus on:
  • Continuing to break the cycle of poverty for children and youth.
  • Enabling persons to move toward employment and income security.
  • Working toward a long-term goal of ending homelessness in Ontario.
  • Using evidence-based social policy and measuring success.
  • Continuing to call on the federal government to work collaboratively with Ontario to develop and implement solutions that meet the needs of Ontarians.

September 2, 2014

Ontario's 2nd Poverty Reduction Strategy: Expanding Health and Dental Benefits ...

Ontario's 2nd Poverty Reduction Strategy is being released on Wednesday, September 3.

No doubt it will build on things included in the first PRS. And it will no doubt incorporate things announced in the 2014 Budget.

A very important piece will be to see how the Government will expand dental and prescription drugs benefits to children and adults with low incomes. This is what the Wynne Government announced in its 2014 budget:

As part of the first Poverty Reduction Strategy, the government launched the Healthy Smiles Ontario program in 2010, which provides dental services to children in low‐income working families. Beginning in April 2014, program eligibility is being expanded to give 70,000 more children access to dental services.
The government will further integrate existing publicly funded dental programs for children into the Healthy Smiles Ontario program to provide seamless enrolment and streamlined administration.The government is also proposing to further expand access to health benefits for children in low‐income families. Once fully implemented, children in low‐income families would be eligible to receive additional health benefits including prescription drugs, assistive devices, vision care and mental health services. By expanding eligibility to approximately 500,000 children, these benefits and services would further improve health outcomes for low‐income children and help their families remain in employment.

Moving forward, the government will consult with stakeholders to explore options to extend health benefits to all low‐income Ontarians.
If it does nothing else, the second Poverty Reduction Strategy should make good on these promises. That would be an important step forward for all Ontarians.

But it will be good if the strategy moves on other things like decent employment and adequate income supports, affordable housing and a plan to tackle homelessness.