Bill 152, Poverty Reduction Act, 2009

Matthews, Hon Deborah Minister of Children and Youth Services

Current Status: Royal Assent received Chapter Number: S.O. 2009 C.10

Viewing: Royal Assent (current version) pdf

Bill 152                                                       2009

An Act respecting a long-term strategy to reduce poverty in Ontario

Preamble

Recognizing that the reduction of poverty supports the social, economic and cultural development of Ontario, the Government of Ontario published on December 4, 2008 Breaking the Cycle  —  Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, a comprehensive long-term strategy to reduce poverty.  The Government’s poverty reduction strategy is guided by the vision of a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential, and contribute to and participate in a prosperous and healthy Ontario and builds on the foundations of Ontario’s education system and the Ontario Child Benefit Program.

A principal goal of the Government’s strategy published on December 4, 2008 is to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in the number of Ontario children living in poverty within five years.

The initial focus of the Government’s strategy is on breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty by improving opportunities for children, particularly through the education system.

The implementation and success of the strategy will require the sustained commitment of all levels of government, all sectors of Ontario society and a growing economy.

The Government of Ontario is committed,

  (a)  to regular consultations with respect to the strategy;

  (b)  to measuring the success of the strategy by setting a target at least every five years and assessing indicators of poverty reduction; and

   (c)  to reporting annually on the success of the strategy.

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

Purpose

   1.  The purpose of this Act is to establish mechanisms to support a sustained long-term reduction of poverty in Ontario.

Poverty reduction strategy

   2.  (1)  The Government of Ontario shall maintain the poverty reduction strategy set out in Breaking the Cycle  —  Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy published on December 4, 2008, or another poverty reduction strategy,

  (a)  that reflects Ontario’s aspiration to be a leading jurisdiction in reducing poverty; and

  (b)  that is guided by the vision of a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential and contribute to and participate in a prosperous and healthy Ontario.

Principles

   (2)  Every new or modified poverty reduction strategy is to be based on the following principles:

Importance of all Ontarians

    1.  That there is untapped potential in Ontario’s population that needs to be drawn upon by building and establishing supports for, and eliminating barriers to, full participation by all people in Ontario’s economy and society and, in particular, persons who face discrimination on the grounds of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability.

Importance of communities

    2.  That strong, healthy communities are an integral part of the poverty reduction strategy; their potential must be brought to bear on the reduction of poverty.

Recognition of diversity

    3.  That not all groups of people share the same level of risk of poverty.  The poverty reduction strategy must recognize the heightened risk among groups such as immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups.

Importance of support and involvement of families

    4.  That families be supported so that they can play a meaningful role in the reduction of poverty and in promoting opportunity. 

Respect

    5.  That all people in Ontario, including those living in poverty, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Involvement

    6.  That Ontarians, especially people living in poverty, are to be involved in the design and implementation of the strategy.

Commitment and co-operation

    7.  That a sustained commitment to work together to develop strong and healthy children, youth, adults, families and communities is required to effectively reduce poverty.

Importance of the third sector

    8.  That the third sector, including non-profit, charitable and voluntary organizations, are integral to a poverty reduction strategy by delivering the programs and services that matter to people, by strengthening communities and by making a positive contribution to the economy.

Contents of poverty reduction strategy

   (3)  Every new or modified poverty reduction strategy is to include the following:

    1.  A specific poverty reduction target.

    2.  Initiatives designed to improve the economic and social conditions of persons and families living in poverty.

    3.  Indicators to measure the success of the strategy that are linked to the determinants of poverty, including but not limited to income, education, health, housing and standard of living.

Poverty reduction target

   3.  At least every five years, either as part of the development of a new poverty reduction strategy under section 6 or otherwise, the Government of Ontario shall establish a specific target for poverty reduction.

Annual report

   4.  (1)  The Minister shall, commencing at the end of 2009, prepare an annual report on the Government’s poverty reduction strategy, including the Government’s activities to support the strategy and available information relating to the indicators set out in the strategy.

Report to be tabled

   (2)  The Minister shall, not later than March 31 of the following year,

  (a)  lay the annual report before the Assembly, if the Assembly is in session; or

  (b)  deposit the annual report with the Clerk of the Assembly, if the Assembly is not in session.

Regular consultation

   5.  (1)  The Minister shall regularly consult at such times as the Minister considers appropriate with such key stakeholders, other levels of government, members of the private, public and non-profit sectors and individuals, including those living in poverty, as the Minister considers advisable with respect to the poverty reduction strategy.

Groups to be consulted

   (2)  The individuals and groups to be consulted by the Minister must include representatives of people at heightened risk of poverty, including immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups.

Development of new poverty reduction strategy

   6.  (1)  At least every five years, the Government of Ontario shall assess the poverty reduction strategy then in effect.

Consultation

   (2)  As part of an assessment under this section, the Minister,

  (a)  shall inform the public of the proposed assessment of the strategy and solicit the views of the public with respect to the strategy; and

  (b)  shall arrange for consultations to be carried out by such means as the Minister believes will facilitate participation by key stakeholders, other levels of government, members of the private, public and non-profit sectors and individuals, including individuals living in poverty.

Groups to be consulted

   (3)  The individuals and groups to be consulted by the Minister must include representatives of people at heightened risk of poverty, including but not limited to immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups.

New poverty reduction strategy to be issued

   (4)  Based on its assessment of the poverty reduction strategy then in effect and after consideration of the written and oral representations it receives, the Government shall develop and issue a new poverty reduction strategy for Ontario.

Publication

   7.  The Minister shall publish on a Government of Ontario website,

  (a)  each specific poverty reduction target established by the Government;

  (b)  each annual report required under section 4; and

   (c)  each poverty reduction strategy issued by the Government.

Commencement

   8.  This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

   9.  The short title of this Act is the Poverty Reduction Act, 2009.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE

This Explanatory Note was written as a reader’s aid to Bill 152 and does not form part of the law.  Bill 152 has been enacted as Chapter 10 of the Statutes of Ontario, 2009.

 

The Poverty Reduction Act, 2009 requires the Government of Ontario to maintain the poverty reduction strategy set out in Breaking the Cycle  —  Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, published on December 4, 2008, or another poverty reduction strategy thatreflects Ontario’s aspiration to be a leading jurisdiction in reducing poverty.  The poverty reduction strategy is to be guided by the vision of a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential and contribute to and participate in a prosperous and healthy Ontario.  Every new or modified poverty reduction strategy is to be based on the principles set out in the Bill and include,

  (a)   a specific poverty reduction target;

  (b)   initiatives designed to improve the economic and social conditions of persons and families living in poverty; and

  (c)   indicatorsto measure the success of the strategy that are linked to the determinants of poverty,including but not limited to income, education, health, housing and standard of living.

The Government of Ontario is required to establish a specific poverty reduction target at least every five years.

The Minister is required, commencing at the end of 2009, to prepare an annual report on the Government’s poverty reduction strategy, including activities to support the strategy and available information relating to the indicators set out in the strategy.  The annual report for each year is to be laid before the Assembly by March 31 of the following year, or deposited with the Clerk of the Assembly by that day if the Assembly is not in session.

The Minister is required to regularly consult with such key stakeholders, other levels of government, members of the private, public and non-profit sectors and individuals, including those living in poverty, as the Minister considers advisable with respect to the poverty reduction strategy.  The individuals and groups to be consulted must include representatives of people at heightened risk of poverty, including immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups.

At least every five years, the Government of Ontario must assess the poverty reduction strategy then in effect.  The Minister is required to inform the public of the proposed assessment, solicit the views of the public and carry out consultationswith key stakeholders, other levels of government, members of the private, public and non-profit sectors, individuals, including those living in poverty, and representatives of people at heightened risk of poverty, including but not limited to immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups.  Based on the assessment of the poverty reduction strategy then in effect and after consideration of the written and oral representations it receives, the Government shall develop and issue a new poverty reduction strategy.

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