We believe that no one should live in poverty, especially children. Because of this, we are constantly advocating for its elimination. CPAN realizes that poverty elimination will not happen overnight. Our belief, along with many others fighting poverty, is that a poverty reduction strategy, with targets and timetables, is the first crucial and essential step.
During the 2008 provincial poverty consultations, CPAN worked vigorously to ensure that Renfrew County low income residents were able to not only voice their concerns, but also play an active part during these discussions. CPAN then made a Submission to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee. In December of 2008 the province of Ontario announced a Poverty Reduction Strategy to reduce child poverty by 25% in 5 years. The province also committed to fostering support to low income families by substantially increasing the Ontario Child Benefit, overhauling the social assistance system, and investing in education and communities.
CPAN has been monitoring progress on poverty reduction, and although some work has been done we are falling short of expectations. Despite the slow progress the province has continued to work on poverty reduction issues, one being a Social Assistance Review, conducted in 2011. Having the opportunity to have Renfrew County voices heard CPAN again held public consultations and submitted our findings to the commissioners representing the province of Ontario.
While we live in hope that child poverty is reduced, and eventually eliminated we have doubts if that goal can be reached without political will from all levels of government. We are concerned as assistance rates fall well below the poverty line, and those working full time full year on minimum wage cannot reach the poverty line. This leaves families in constant crisis with little hope for their future.
CPAN promises to continue to work with all levels of government as well as other likeminded organizations in our goal to eliminate all child and family poverty in Renfrew County. Partnering with The County of Renfrew and The City of Pembroke CPAN recently co-hosted a Poverty Reduction Forum specific for Renfrew County. The event was very well attended and received. Minister Deb Matthews sent a recorded message, and speakers included Chris Ballard MPP, Senator Art Eggleton, Tom Cooper (Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and Coordinator of the Ontario Living Wage Network), Greg Lubimiv, (Executive Director, Phoenix Centre for Children and Families), Laura Hunter (Staff Lawyer with Renfrew County Legal Clinic), Dr. Maureen Carew (Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer, Renfrew County and District Health Unit), Rev. Mike Hackbusch (Chaplaincy Director at the House of Friendship Kitchener), and Mary Lou Mills (Public Health Nurse, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit).
During ‘The World Café’ portion of the event the conversations were extensive and the broad desire to move forward with the creation of a Renfrew County Poverty Reduction Strategy was inspiring. Many participants were interested in future poverty reduction work. Warden Peter Emon kindly offered to chair a task force to start the process of creating a Poverty Reduction Strategy unique to Renfrew County. This work is ongoing and we invite others to join. If you are interested in becoming part of the solution for local poverty reduction please contact us.
For more information on the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy Click Here
If you agree that child poverty is unacceptable we invite you to join our network