Ontario’s Liberals Should Care More About Child Poverty Than Hydro Handouts

Originally posted on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/mike-schreiner/ontario-liberals-child-poverty_b_5770982.html on September 5, 2014. 

The Ontario Liberals announced a new poverty reduction strategy this week while admitting that their last one failed.
Instead of taking responsibility for their failure, the Wynne government is washing their hands of the issue by blaming the federal government.
Playing the blame game won’t help the 371,000 children currently living in poverty in Ontario.
It’s time for the Liberals to look in the mirror. The money is there. But the Wynne and McGuinty governments have chosen political self-interest over reducing childhood poverty.
In the past four years, the Liberals have spent over $4 billion taking 10 per cent off people’s electricity bills. That’s $4 billion that they could have used to help those 371,000 kids. Instead, wealthy and middle class households have received $10 to $20 off their hydro bill each month.
In the Liberal playbook, playing politics with power bills has trumped helping disadvantaged kids. Upper and middle class homeowners vote, kids living in poverty don’t.
The Premier could have said that her government is cancelling the hydro handout as a down payment on reversing her failure to reduce child poverty. But her minister blamed the feds instead.
The Liberals will spend over $1 billion more on the 10 per cent hydro handout before it expires in 2016. That is enough money to double the Ontario Child Benefit. That’s an extra $1,300 per year for a child living in poverty. The Liberals, with a straight face, act like heroes because they are increasing the benefit by $100.
Sadly, that extra $100 is considered “progressive” in today’s Ontario where rhetoric trumps results.
Having failed to deliver for our children, the Liberals are hoping to switch the channel with another PR announcement. Their new goal is to end homelessness.
This is a good goal. But unfortunately the Liberals have no timeline and no specific plans for achieving it. Given the Liberal’s poor track record, why would anyone have confidence they can deliver on this new promise?
It’s time to stop the BS on reducing poverty. Ontario needs a premier with the courage to make the hard choices.
The government needs to double down on Ontario’s five-year target of reducing child poverty by 25 per cent. A good place to start is prioritizing kids over hydro handouts that benefit the wealthy the most.