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Niagara Prosperity Initiative Background

The Niagara Prosperity Initiative was established by Niagara Region in 2008, and provides an annual investment of $1.5 million to support poverty reduction and prevention activities.

Goals of the Niagara Prosperity Initiative

  • To guide and direct investments on identified initiatives to alleviate poverty in neighbourhoods across Niagara
  • To advocate for change that will reduce and prevent poverty in the community
  • To develop and enhance collaborative relationships between stakeholders
  • To engage people living in poverty in meaningful ways to ensure that investments reflect need

How Does It Work?

The Niagara Prosperity Initiative uses a research-based approach to address the root causes of poverty, allocating resources where they will have the greatest effect.

While some projects are designed to meet the immediate needs of individuals living in poverty, the Niagara Prosperity Initiative is also focused on longer-term strategies which require stronger partnerships and improved coordination and planning across the public, private and voluntary (not for profit) sectors and among stakeholders.

Legacy of Poverty Report

The Niagara Prosperity Initiative has its roots in a 2007 report on poverty in Niagara called A Legacy of Poverty? Addressing Cycles of Poverty and the Impact on Child Health in Niagara Region. Among the report's findings:

  • 15 per cent of working families earn less than $20,000
  • 15.6 per cent of Niagara's children live in poverty
  • 45.6 per cent of residents pay more than 30 per cent of income on rent
  • 33 per cent of visits to food banks are made by children
  • 42 per cent of Ontario Works caseload are children
  • 32 per cent of Ontario Disability Support Program caseload are children

In October 2011 an updated report was made available called Building a New Legacy: Increasing Prosperity for Niagara Residents by Improving the Quality of Neighbourhood Life

This report provides updates to the recommendations and statistics from the "Legacy of Poverty" report. The data available in the updated report comes from the 2006 census; before the downturn in the economy. Among the report's findings:

  • 12 per cent of families in Niagara live below the Low Income Cut Off (2006 data)
  • 71.1 per cent increase in Employment Insurance Beneficiaries from Aug. 2008 to Aug. 2009 in Niagara
  • 40 per cent increase in Ontario Works cases from Oct. 2008 to May 2011
  • In 2005-2006 just over 4,000 households used the 13 local food banks across Niagara
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