Ontario’s big poverty plan: bill Ottawa - Macleans.ca

Ontario’s big poverty plan: bill Ottawa

The plan has hard targets, but where’s the money coming from?


bill Ottawa

Putting a face on its promise to reduce poverty in Ontario, the McGuinty government released “Breaking the Cycle” earlier this month. Given the gathering economic storm, this poverty reduction plan seems timely. But while the proposal has drawn praise for setting measurable goals, whether those goals are reached is another matter. That’s because the province is counting on someone else picking up the tab.

The plan promises to reduce the number of children living in poverty in Ontario by 25 per cent within five years. If successful, it will bring 90,000 kids and their families up to within half of the provincial median income. For a single mother with two children, that would mean an income of $27,000 a year. Ontario is the first province to set hard targets for reducing child poverty.

But how the province will reach its goal is a mystery. According to the plan, new spending by Ontario will amount to $300 million. This covers a small increase in the Ontario Child Benefit, plus some educational supports. If that doesn’t seem sufficient for such an ambitious target, it’s because Ontario doesn’t expect to do most of the spending.

While the federal government had no role in setting the policy, the province is demanding that it do most of the work. It wants Ottawa to double the Working Income Tax Benefit and boost the National Child Benefit Supplement. If implemented in Ontario alone, these changes would cost federal taxpayers about $1.5 billion. And yet it’s constitutionally impossible for Ottawa to increase funding for a national program in just one province. The real cost is thus closer to $3 billion, or 10 times what Ontario has committed.

“We will do our part,” Premier Dalton McGuinty boldly stated when he introduced the plan. If he fails to meet his target, he can always blame Ottawa.


Ontario’s big poverty plan: bill Ottawa

  1. The rhetoric is glowing. And Dalton knows it. I don’t blame him, because he’s bound to get some great press from the Toronto Star and provide the Star with another yellow opportunity to demean Harper.

  2. This doesn’t sound like a plan, it sounds like extortion.

    The goal of the Ontario premier should be to identify industries that are growing globally and attract them to Ontario to create real wealth.

    • Hard to do when the national finance minister is calling the province “The worst place to invest”

  3. Typical

  4. It sounds like a good plan to me. Conservative PM’s tend to play hardball with non-Conservative Ontario governments. Mulroney pretty much arbitrarily changed the transfer payments calculation to make Ontario a “have” province to cut off something like nine billion of transfer payments to the Bob Rae government during the 80’s recession. Flaherty has constantly bad-mouthed Ontario, and the CPC opposed any financial aid to Ontario in the current crisis. Time to fight back.

    This new McGuinty plan proposes something that will be popular in large parts of Ontario. Ontarians who oppose anti-poverty initiatives don’t vote Liberal, so no downside this way. This type of activist-government program goes against the ideology of the CPC, so if Harper backs it, McGuinty gets credit for backing Harper into a corner and the federal Liberals get to portray him as caving in to Liberal ideas. If Harper doesn’t back it, the Federal Liberals can use it to demonstrate that Harper doesn’t care and is out of touch with what many regular Canadians want and need.

    Looks win-win for McGuinty & the federal Libs. And people call Harper a master tactician.

  5. Is McGuinty really going to continue blaming or extorting Ottawa for everything? We have a fiscal gap of $20 billion, we’re a have-not province, we need auto money, we need more seats in the House….

    And what does he propose? Banning pitbulls? Limiting the # of teens in a car? Releasing a grandiose poverty plan with no money? releasing a review of municipal-provincial relationships that really doesn’t say anything?

    How about he does something constructive, on his own that Ontarians actually care about, that doesn’t involve fed-bashing or whining about past Tory governments’ mistakes?

    Every other province – of all political stripes – do it successfully everyday…

  6. I look at it like: I get 327 a month from Harper (for one child, single mother) while Harper doesn’t collect a cent of income tax from me. I get 50 from McGuinty for one child. That’s how it goes.

  7. Ontario has been picking up the tab through equalization payments for decades. Ontario has every right to ask Ottawa to fund anti-poverty programs.

  8. I think that Education falls under Provincial Jurisdiction. Well, early childcare/daycare/aftercare ARE Education. If Ontario would increase it’s funding of education to include younger ages and to cover the hours of work, rather than sit back for years and years waiting for the Federal Government to act and pay, THAT would be the single greatest social credit program toward alleviating poverty. When Harper was elected and implemented a social credit of 100 monthly per child under 6 this cannot even be considered in the category of ‘poverty alleviation’ that was proposed by a National Childcare Program. Yet it trumped it wholly! That is because the Canadian population is uneducated about the issues and doesn’t care.

    I personally don’t think that funding of National Daycare by the Federal government is the answer. What is required is to implement equal pay for work of equal value standards between Teachers and other child educators. First, the provincial government must clean up the inequities between educational workers, caregivers, etc, inequities that exist while richer, conservative Canadians insist on ‘choice’ that they can pay for. it should be known that while different streams of the quaility of childcare (including the quality of work environments and pay for those engaged in it) persist — Education as a whole suffers. It is in this regard that the Province has Jurisdiction and where they should be called to task. McGuinty’s reformer government has done ‘class cap size’ and other reform strategies that have no only failed to make improvements, that have damaged education because of how ineffective they are. Put it this way, it would have been better to put two teachers in each classroom than split classes the way it was done. Those ‘teachers’ could have been quickly credentialized and might have included many nannies, childcare workers and others, who, paired with credentialized teachers in a longer school day with larger class sizes — well the Difference in Poverty would have been made.

    The next thing to do is for the Ontario Government to step back from Mike Harris’ decimation of social welfare spending. I look to Charity organizations in this piece. Many of the training programs of Welfare are simply inadequate Education (again- it’s a Provincial Responsibility). These programs are funded not by government, government doesn’t run them, the United Way and other Charity groups do. They are Failing!

    The Solution to Poverty is to call the Provincial Government to task on it’s responsibility for Education.

  9. Premier McGuinty intends to ‘break the cycle’ through welfare. This will create the dreaded ‘strategic deficit’. We’ve been down this street, and the further one goes the worse it gets. This is not a creative plan. This is not a productive plan. This is not a constructive plan. This is not a responsible plan.

  10. James Short, you mean ‘structural deficit’, i.e. permanent deficit.

    And when you look at the contortions in logic that commenters like Shenping pull to explain how this will work for McGuinty, you can’t help but see the failure written all over it. Then of course there’s Truemuse telling us we oppose national daycare because we’re ignorant and uneducated. Is it any wonder the federal liberals are as moribund as they are?

    (Speaking of ignorant and uneducated, does anyone know what an actual universal daycare program to cover all pre-school age children in the country would cost? In 1986 it was estimated at $16 billion. By the time Paul Martin proposed a national childcare program nearly 20 years later, that figure would have doubled at least. Yet his plan called for $1 billion per year in total federal funding. And many of its proponents still speak of this plan as though it represented a comprehensive national childcare plan. In fact, it represented 1/32 of a national childcare plan. In other words, 31 out of every 32 kids would have been left out. The amount needed to create a true national childcare plan – over $30 billion in annual funding – is too massive to even consider, unless wer’re prepared to become Sweden, where it is simply accepted that the government will appropriate in excess of 60% of GDP each year. But then only an ignorant, uneducated redneck like myself would worry about costing programs, so what do I know?)

    Activist government in this country is dead. It died out of a lack of will a few years ago when Paul Martin’s bafflegab and “big ideas” started falling on deaf ears. In other words, it died when governments actually had money. It is surely dead now that governments no longer have money to cover even existing programs without running deficits.

  11. Rager Ranter,
    Why do the conservatives oppose National Daycare? Because they oppose equal pay for work of equal value for educators (mostly female!). Read the policy statements at their last convention. Note the wage reductions for public servants in Flaherty’s ‘mini-budget’. I don’t say that women are excluded from the conservative plan to offshore many public service jobs and to cut public service wages. Yet teachers, and the lowest paid women workers are going to suffer more than others. The liberals are not different in this. They also are not committed to eliminate the wage gap for women and to enable full participation of women in the workforce (read the conservative policy: full participation in ‘society’ — that’s the doublespeak for how the conservatives will leave women behind. The liberals are no better. Dion’s campaign revealed that the liberal party thinks that daycare is spending that has to wait: “we have to live within our means” is how they put it. So women get full participation in society while we live within our means? Is that it?

    Canadians are definitely uneducated about it otherwise they would not allow politicians to back away from committments to assist families with the costs of education. You have bandied the ‘cost’ of national daycare. What about the cost of so many women who don’t participate in the workforce due to the problems of having children and maintaining work in environments that make it impossible to balance responsibilities unless you are rich? Has your party tabulated it? Society will grow and benefit when women and men finally share family responsibilities and household incomes equitably. While women must carry the burden, make 70% of the wage, Canada moves backwards and stagnates and what do you think is the cost of that? Alot more than 30 billion. How much went to auto companies to save jobs that support entire familes while they build the cars noone wants? There is so much waste in government. Clean up that, and spend it on the full participation of women in ‘society’ , that is, the workfore and in education, and the balance sheet will look alot better for Canada.

    • Sorry if I’m misunderstanding your various points here, but earlier in the thread, you stated you were receiving “327 from Harper…50 from McGuinty” and paying no taxes. My guess is that your income is at the lower level.

      As a single mother of one, I’m currently getting less than $50/month in federal & provincial benefits and paying lots of taxes. I’m guessing I’m in a higher income bracket than you.

      My child had excellent daycare, and I paid through the nose for it. >$600/month. I was making good money at the time and didn’t begrudge a cent of my daycare costs, although I was pretty bugged about my tax rates. Living in BC at the time (late 90s), my effective tax rate (fed/prov combined) was well over 45% with very few write offs (other than daycare costs).

      I don’t have a degree or any post-secondary other than a few college courses taken out of interest rather than career-related. I was in a sales job and good at it. I’ve since moved out of sales and don’t make quite as much but still do well, and am now in a lower-tax province (although BC has become more reasonable of late).

      The daycare my child attended in BC was used as a model in the country, and I sat in parent-council meetings listening to Liberal and NDP supporters argue against providing the same level of care to anyone in the country on the government dime. “You get what you pay for” was the mantra.

      ” You have bandied the ‘cost’ of national daycare. What about the cost of so many women who don’t participate in the workforce due to the problems of having children and maintaining work in environments that make it impossible to balance responsibilities unless you are rich?”

      Actually, you don’t have to be rich. You have to be motivated. You have to have a job that pays real money. As a parent, I don’t have an issue with teachers getting a decent salary. They earn it. As a parent, I don’t (and didn’t, when paying for childcare) have an issue with daycare workers earning a decent living. As a parent, my focus is on earning enough to provide for my family, not on what I can get from the government.

      All of the daycares my child attended, both in BC and in Alberta, had children attending under subsidies, and I’ve never begrudged a dime of it. Get off your high horse and look at WHO is receiving gov’t daycare in Quebec. It’s not the lower-income Quebeckers, at least not from what I’ve read. It’s the middle class, who can afford to pay REAL costs. It’s not the socialized provinces providing decent care for everyone, it’s the HAVE provinces, like “red neck” Alberta, providing subsidies to all and sundry.

      “spend it on the full participation of women in ’society’ ”

      How about you start participating fully? And quit whining. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

      • I think you misunderstood (reversed) some of my points. I never make apologies for whining! Often, when women say the same thing as men it’s characterized as ‘whining’. You might want to look inside to see if you have a sexist attitudes. And Newsflash: you already look bad if you’re a single parent family and telling me to suck up the cost of childcare just cause you don’t begrudge the rip-off costs yourself, well….what did I ever do to you?

        • “You might want to look inside to see if you have a sexist attitudes” Get serious. I don’t agree with you so I’m sexist? And why is saying you are whining somehow sexist? Hell, my ex whined better than most two-year-olds, that’s not a gender specific term.

          “you already look bad if you’re a single parent family and telling me to suck up the cost of childcare just cause you don’t begrudge the rip-off costs yourself, well….what did I ever do to you?”

          Make up your mind. Earlier in the thread you were saying women weren’t paid equally. Now, daycare costs are a rip-off. Which would you rather, a post-secondary-trained child care worker? Or someone who graduated from highschool and ended up working in a daycare for any number of reasons? I don’t intend to imply that someone without post-secondary won’t make a good daycare worker, but logic dictates that someone with training in early education (post-secondary) will have more tools in their toolbox, ergo the child gets better care. Expensive daycares put a lot of money into toys, games and field trips for the kids, cheaper ones don’t. Even the expensive ones spend the bulk of their budget on salaries, they just have a bigger budget.

          Constitutionally, daycare is a provincial responsibility. Take it up with McGuinty.

  12. Truemuse, I don’t know what you are talking about. But I do know if we have national daycare, and if we elevate those workers (mostly women) to the same salary levels as elementary school teachers (which is approaching $90,000 in Ontario in the next few years) the costs of any sort of national daycare will be far greater than the $32 billion figure. Since we can’t even afford the $32 billion (or even the $16 billion 1986 figure – if we foolishly assume that a universal daycare program will cost no more now than it would have in 1986) how the hell can we afford one in a world where all “educators” – including preschool teachers – are considered equal?

    By the way, there is no wage gap. All you need to do to test that out is to measure the incomes of childless, never-married women against their childless, never-married male counterparts. The woman actually earn MORE when isolating for marriage and child-rearing. And it’s been that way since the late 1980s. Women begin to earn less after marriage and childbirth, when they begin to make decisions regarding the division of labour inside and outside the home. Do you honestly expect a perfect society someday where men and women will be taking time off work in equal amounts and equally sharing in the responsibilities inside and outside the home? What a dull, genderless, androgynous existence that would be. Feminists dream about such a world, but since they’ll never be attracted much to the Mr. Mom variety of man, (except perhaps for the really domineering alpha-female types looking for a man-servant) such a world simply can’t come about.

    • Who does know what Truemuse is talking about? Does Truemuse even know?

  13. Hey Raging Ranter,
    I like Mr. Mom! His partner, a.k.a Mr. Mom, is fine also. Good neighbours both. Miss Pre-Mom, dressed for work in heels and a suit that recalls the Victorian age, looks the same as Mr. Dad if they work for the same company (to me). That’s just my skewed perspective.
    Now you can’t honestly say that there is no wage gap buddy!!!!!!!
    Happy new year,

    • Your perspective is definitely ‘skewed’.

  14. Karen loves Raging Ran-ter.
    Karen loves Raging Ran-ter!

  15. Dalton lives in a make-believe world where he can be a conquering hero and a champion of the people. But when reality intrudes into his little world, he really can’t offer much. During the election, Howard Hampton blew up at the media for not pressing Dalton to talk about the state of the economy. At that time Ontario was well into a de-industrialization phase, and the province was loosing valuable sources of tax revenue. Dalton’s response was to hire more civil servants and paint a rosy picture of things. Things continued to slide and now Ontario is a have-not province, which is running a deficit.

    What Dalton needs to do, and he won’t do this, is make Ontario competitive with other jurisdictions which are crying out for investment. My guess is that Ontario will continue to slide and that Dalton will continue to borrow money in order to pay for services. Ontario’s powerful social sector unions will ensure that their members will not need to make any sacrifices. In a sense, Ontario has it’s own form of apatite in which single moms working at Walmart, are denied the trappings of the privilaged class, in terms of salary and benefits which typify an Ontario Hydro worker.