Today I made a donation to the Daily Bread Food Bank. And I’ll tell you why.
When I first got involved in politics, I thought political service should go hand-in-hand with community service. While a lot of good can come from government, you don’t have to be in government to make a real difference in people’s lives.
So we raised money for the Daily Bread Food Bank. Their headquarters was in the same community as our young Liberal club and it felt right to fight not just for our Liberal ideals but to deliver on them by giving back to our community.
Eventually I got more involved in politics and had the privilege of working on Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. I finished undergrad just as the Great Recession began. It was in response to that downturn that the Strategy was created.
When times get tough, the first and worst impacted are those who are already don’t have much. People with disabilities, single parents, and people who are already looking for work. The list goes on. In those times, donations help, but they only go so far. You need a government that will put an arm around its people and see them through to better times.
As of January, child poverty in Ontario decreased by 24.4%. That means 123,000 children were lifted out of poverty in our province. That’s a population equivalent to the City of Kingston. And it will have a life-changing impact on the trajectory of each one of those children, their children, and their grandchildren. But it didn’t happen by accident. It happened because of deliberate decisions taken by government.
As of April this year, nearly 240,000 students are receiving a post-secondary education without having to spend a cent on tuition. That’s like sending a city the size of Kitchener to school for free. It’s thanks to the recent redesign of the Ontario Student Assistance Plan that is helping more low and middle income families afford post-secondary education. Still countless more are learning post-secondary is an option for them thanks to a simple aid calculator on a government website.
Having had the privilege to work on the rollout of this policy change there’s one thing that still really stands out for me. And that’s when we talk about reducing child poverty, we can’t ignore how approximately 13,000 single parents have been able to enroll in post-secondary because of the new OSAP system. This too will have a life-changing impact on the trajectory of each one of those parents, their children, and their grandchildren.
We’ve also learned that food bank usage dropped during the tough post-holiday period for the first time in four years. As reported in May, the Daily Bread Food Bank credited the drop to “easing of provincial welfare rules over the past year, indexing of the Canada child benefit last July, and Ontario’s minimum wage boost to $14 on Jan. 1.”
In short, government put an arm around its people and their lives improved.
So why did I donate today?
Today a new government is being sworn in at Queen’s Park. One that has committed to billions in ‘efficiencies’ that will target tangible services that have kept struggling families afloat. And the new government will make those cuts in uncertain economic and geopolitical times where the only certainty seems to be that hard times, including a possible recession, are on their way back.
Government has done a great deal in recent years to insulate all families from a future downturn. But it has certainly not done enough. And as of today, it will begin doing less despite its people needing it to do more. And the first place we’ll see the impact of those decisions is at the food bank.
So if you can, I encourage you to step up where this new government won’t and put your arm around those who need you now more than ever if they are going make it through the next four years and beyond.
To make a one-time or ongoing monthly donation to the Daily Bread Food bank, visit their website here: