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Chambers Announces Nirvana for Children

March 28, 2007 permalink

Following Mary Anne Chambers' announcement of a new era of plenty for Ontario's children, we give some comments.




Hon. Mary Anne V. Chambers (Minister of Children and Youth Services): It gives me great pleasure to speak about the Ontario child benefit, which Finance Minister Greg Sorbara unveiled last Thursday. We know the future depends on the type of start that we give our children in life. The $2.1-billion Ontario child benefit is a historic investment that will help to give our vulnerable children the opportunity they deserve. It’s at the heart of our government’s 2007 budget because our government believes that Ontario’s future depends on giving our children the best possible start in life.

Unfortunately, many children come from families who are struggling to make ends meet. If only they had some of the opportunities that so many of us have been fortunate to have been afforded, they could move beyond the poverty they struggle against. Our society pays a heavy price when our children grow up in poverty. That heavy price is the cost of failed opportunities, lost hopes and forgotten dreams.

Let me share with you a sampling of statements on poverty from grade 4 and 5 children in North Bay, taken from excerpts from Our Neighbours’ Voices: Will We Listen?

  • “Poverty is being afraid to tell your mom you need new gym shoes.”
  • “Poverty is feeling ashamed when my dad can’t get a job.”
  • “Poverty is not getting a hot dog on hot dog day.”
  • “Poverty is pretending that you forgot your lunch.”
  • “Poverty is hiding your feet so the teacher won’t get cross when you don’t have boots.”
  • “Poverty is not buying books at the book fair.”
  • “Poverty is not getting to go on school trips.”
  • “Poverty is being teased for the way you are dressed.”

What is perhaps even more discouraging is to hear from members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, who say, “Poverty in my classroom is students who have no hope for the future because the future costs money.”

An Ontario where children and youth have no hope for the future is not the kind of Ontario that our government wishes for its children and youth. Our government has been tackling the issue of poverty from many angles, and we are determined to do more. That is why we are championing strong, progressive initiatives that will make a difference in the lives of 1.3 million Ontario children in 600,000 lower-income families.

The Ontario child benefit is about opportunity. It is about making that opportunity available to everyone. Our government has taken a giant leap forward to expand opportunities for all Ontario’s children and families so no one is left behind because of a lack of opportunity.

We cannot separate social and economic priorities if we want to have an inclusive society. So we went one step further than just simply ending the clawback of the national child benefit supplement. We are providing assistance to every lower-income family in Ontario. The Ontario child benefit is about increasing opportunity to help people get out of poverty and get on with building a better future for their children.

The Ontario child benefit is also about giving parents the opportunity to move off social assistance without worrying about losing support for their children. It is about enabling families to make real choices for the betterment of their children and, more importantly, to see the realization of the hopes and dreams they have for their children.

The Ontario child benefit will fundamentally change how our children receive the benefits they need, benefits that our government believes children deserve.

Most income support is provided through social assistance, and that excludes the majority of low-income working families. The Ontario child benefit provides help to all children in lower income families. In the first five years, these families will receive an additional $2.1 billion. Ontario children and their families will be better off.

The experts agree that our government has made the right investment for the right reasons. Gail Nyberg, executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank, says, “It’s been a long time since poverty reduction measures were at the forefront of a provincial budget in Ontario. We congratulate the government for having the courage to take on this significant issue, and we expect to see a reduction in food bank use in the coming years as a result…. The Ontario child benefit will reduce barriers faced by families with children who are trying to leave welfare for work.”

Finally, an editorial from the Globe and Mail last Friday said the McGuinty government has “devised an Ontario child benefit that, when fully implemented in … 2011, would be on the cutting edge of 21st-century social policy reform.”

Our budget clearly demonstrates that Ontario is well-positioned to take on the challenges of the 21st century. But in order to ensure our province’s prosperity, we will need every person in Ontario to achieve his or her individual potential. The Ontario child benefit will help to make this a reality. Helping children in lower income families to succeed is the right thing to do, and it is the smart thing to do for our society—a society that enables all children a real chance at success in life.

I ask all members of this Legislature to join me in supporting the Ontario child benefit. We owe it to the 1.3 million children of Ontario who will benefit; we owe it to the 600,000 families who will benefit. This is an investment in our children, an investment in Ontario families and an investment in the future.

Source: Ontario Hansard

Politicians cannot always use complete condor, but Mrs Chambers speaks without connection to reality. Look at the list of poverty symptoms from the North Bay children. In most areas of Ontario, showing even one of the symptoms would get a kid snatched by children's aid. How many children still living with their parents are that poor? Well, there is Cole Norris. His mom could provide all the things he needed until Kingston Children's Aid intervened.

As for the financial benefits for families, they will not fully be implemented for four years, long after the tenure of the current government. Below is an analysis by a journalist who has studied the details.



No end to Ontario's child tax benefit clawback

People on social assistance are still having their federal child tax benefit taken away from them by the Ontario government. The Liberals have broken yet another promise.

There appears to be some confusion over whether the federal child tax benefit clawback from Ontario social assistance cheques has been ended by the Dalton McGuinty government this week. Allow me to clear up the confusion: the clawback is still in full force.

On Thursday, Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara announced a new Ontario Child Benefit for low income families. This means that in Ontario, there will be both a federal and a provincial benefit for low income families with children.

People on social assistance will continue to have the federal benefit clawed back from their welfare cheques. The new provincial benefit will not be clawed back. Ontario families who are not on social assistance will get both benefits. Ontario families on social assistance will receive the Ontario benefit (which is much smaller than the federal benefit), but the McGuinty Liberals will continue to clawback the federal child tax benefit from them.

Seems like a pretty clear and easy-to-understand policy, right?

Then why is the McGuinty government trying to confuse people by claiming that the new Ontario Child Benefit will “effectively end the current clawback of up to $122 per child per month from the National Child Benefit Supplement” according to “government officials” quoted in the Toronto Star on Friday?

The answer is simple. The Liberal government promised during the 2003 election campaign to end the child tax benefit clawback from the families who need it most desperately: social assistance recipients. As with many of their other promises, they did not follow through.

The Ontario Child Benefit is a very small but welcome addition to the social safety net in Ontario for low income families. But it's a pretty big stretch to claim, as Greg Sorbara does, that this $50 per month benefit, which doesn't even start until July of 2008, “takes children off welfare.” This July, families will receive a lump sum payment of $250 per child. For those of us with calculators at home, this works out to $20.83 per month. This, Sorbara claims, “transforms the system.” Doesn't sound all that revolutionary to me.

It does not address the fact that people on social assistance are still having their federal child tax benefit taken away from them by the Ontario government. It also does not address the fact that the McGuinty Liberals have broken yet another promise.

Don't let Dalton McGuinty or Greg Sorbara try to tell you otherwise.

Source: Rabble website