A new report released by an organization called Feed Ontario concludes that poverty costs the province between $27.1 billion and $33 billion a year.
The study, entitled The Cost of Poverty in Ontario, examines the relationship between poverty, poor health, the justice system and lost productivity. It makes the economic case that investing in people by reducing poverty is not only socially responsible but financially sound.
The loss of what’s known as “opportunity income” accounts for the largest chunk of the cost of poverty — $19.4 to $25 billion — followed by health care with $3.9 billion.
Opportunity income means loss of personal revenue that happens when people are either unemployed or underemployed. This also accounts for lost tax revenue.
The report concludes that allowing people to live in poverty is more expensive than actually making some meaningful investments that would actually benefit communities and carry significant cost savings and revenue opportunities for the provincial government as well.
Using Canada’s Low Income Measure (LIM), 1.57 million people in Ontario live in poverty, including 382,000 children.
The Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which topped up the OCB, also played a significant role in moving families with children out of poverty. In contrast, poverty rates have increased overall for unattached adults and families without children by 24.
The study concludes by making key recommendations that encourage the provincial government to build on the success of the Ontario Child Benefit by expanding similar support to unattached adults, as well as by investing in people and the province through proven poverty reduction strategies, such as a basic income, which have demonstrated significant cost savings and increased opportunity for economic growth.
This is an out and out progressive agenda that costs a lot and there is no guarantee that there won’t be unintended consequences as a result of throwing more money at the problem. -CINEWS