The provincial government is investing in locally run projects designed to help improve the lives of people affected by poverty.
Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, who also serves as President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, announced on Sept. 18 funding for eight local organizations in southwestern Ontario through the Local Poverty Reduction Fund.
“With this fund, we are establishing a new way of tackling poverty, one that’s rooted in evidence,” Matthews said. “I’m thrilled to see that these local community organizations are helping us build the body of evidence we need to make sure we are investing in what works and what makes people’s lives better.
Through the poverty reduction fund the Ontario government will provide up to:
- $275,000 to Literacy Link South Central, to help Ontario Works recipients transition more effectively into the workforce by connecting them with literacy training and employment services
- $572,000 to the London Family Court Clinic to provide specialized supports for young people involved with the justice system
- $351,000 to the Middlesex-London Health Unit for a new nursing education program to support vulnerable young mothers and their babies
- $88,000 to the United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex to increase high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates for students in low-income families
- $470,000 to Western University to assess and improve the mental health of pre-school children who may be at risk
- $134,000 to Western University to reduce homelessness among families with dependent children
- $595,000 to Youth Opportunities Unlimited to support young people who are not in school or training to complete their high school education
- $360,000 to YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin to support homeless or at-risk youth find safe, long-term housing
With Ontario’s support, these organizations will either pilot new programs and measure their success or evaluate the impact of existing programs on the people who need them most.
Among the organizations receiving funding was the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
The health unit will develop a training centre to educate Ontario public health nurses on how to provide the most vulnerable young mothers and their babies with highly specialized supports during pregnancy and early years to help both parents and children achieve their potential.
“Partnering with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office will allow us to invest in the health and well-being of our most vulnerable families, in the professional development of public health nurses and the quality of public health programs,” said Dr. Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and Middlesex-London Health Unit CEO. “This will create an opportunity to develop a Canadian-specific education program designed specifically to provide public health nurses with advanced knowledge and skills to work with families in our communities.”
The province will use evidence gathered from these projects, and others, to support poverty reduction programs across the province that have been proven to work and that can expand over time.
Another beneficiary, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), will work with two regional school boards to identify young people who have dropped out of high school. Once identified, the goal is to connect these youth with the right services to put them on the path to success.
“These investments come at a time when many people face challenges related to poverty,” said Steve Cordes, YOU executive director. “For YOU, it allows us to look at the unique social enterprises we have created and sharpen them with partners to bring long term poverty relief.”
Ontario’s Local Poverty Reduction Fund supports innovative and sustainable local programs that use community partnerships to support those who are disproportionately affected by poverty, including: women, single parents, people with disabilities, youth, newcomers, visible minorities, seniors and Aboriginal Peoples.
Organizations have two more opportunities to apply for funding in 2016 and 2017.