A Homeowners Guide to Landscaping

No matter where you live, you, the homeowner, can spot a downtime for your yard. Most world climates have seasonal changes, spring, summer, autumn, and winter that last about three months and bring changes in temperature, precipitation, and/or length of daylight. These downtimes also change the use and demands of your landscape.

In middle parts of the Northern Hemisphere, warm spring days occur in March, April, and May; June, July, and August bring hot days and warm nights; and in September, October, and November, autumn days become cooler, leading to the winter cold of December, January, and February. In the Southern Hemisphere, seasons reverse and homeowners in places such as Australia and New Zealand experience summer in December, January, and February.

Equatorial and polar regions may not experience seasons or temperature changes but those living close to these areas do encounter environmental changes. In parts of the tropics, rainfall varies greatly, creating a wet season and a dry season. In areas close to the poles, day lengths vary leading to a light season and a dark season.

I believe that one of these downtimes is the best time to begin or continue the landscape planning process. At those times, the “bare bones” of a piece of property, or even one of the little gardens that most of us have accumulated, can be seen the best.

Once house and property measurements are recorded in a notebook or on a piece of graph paper for inclusion in a base plan, homeowners can begin to take stock of their own and their family’s lifestyles. Conclusions arrived at during this period of fact-finding can be recorded in a notebook, and of course modified when necessary, ready to be included in the master plan.

Launch this period of taking stock by equipping yourself with a loose-leaf notebook and then begin answering these six questions:

1) What do I like in a home landscape, and what do I detest?

2) When will the yard be used?

3) How will the yard be used?

4) Who will use the yard?

5) How much time and money can be allowed for implementing the overall plan?

6) Who will do the work?

Study garden magazines, design books, and plant catalogs. Clip pictures and ideas that appeal to you from the magazines and catalogs and copy them from the landscape and horticulture books. Start lists of items you absolutely can’t tolerate. Look carefully at yards in your own and surrounding neighborhoods. Invest in a point-and-shoot camera for spontaneous discoveries and observations. If you think a homeowner might be touchy about pictures, ask permission first. This part of taking stock can be ongoing. Just remember to include all of your observations in your notebook.

 

Question #2, when will the yard be used, is easier to answer. If every summer season is spent away from home than the best option is to plan a scheme for those months that looks neat and requires little maintenance. In this situation, an elaborate perennial garden is a waste of time, energy and money when a variety of slower-growing trees and shrubs would enhance the same amount of space. Be very honest and unambiguous in answering this question.

A crucial issue in question

#3: how will the property be used? Is your idea of a finished landscape one of low maintenance that embellishes the house…what Realtor’s term “curb appeal?” Or do you want a hobby or recreation area? Or is a plant paradise more to your liking?

An ongoing landscape project is certainly a possibility. Families, finances and needs all change. Just because you’ve captured ideas for 2002 and made a master plan does not mean it is engraved in stone. The plan can and should be changed as your lifestyle changes. Of importance here, however, is to again be honest and unambiguous. How your property will be used is central to space and time allocation, and any change will be the hub around which the master plan can be changed in the future.

You must plan around who will use your yard, question #4. We all know that the needs of senior citizens differ from those of growing children. However, we need to understand and plan for these differences, especially when a mixture of ages and interests will be sharing spaces. Perhaps the easiest way to prepare for an assortment of needs is to painstakingly watch in public parks and other yards how spaces are used and where the difficulty is encountered.

Parents of young children remark that they’ve purchased beautiful play equipment that the children never use. When I find out where Mom & Dad hang out, it’s usually in a plot, or working on a project on the other side of the yard. Moving the play equipment closer to what interests the adults usually results in family togetherness.

As their mobility decreases, seniors need flat, stable footing especially where levels change, and when level changes are drastic, handrails might be in order. Bird feeders, small water features, anything that brings in cheerful motion and sound, can provide a satisfying environment. And of course, a wide variety of comfortable places to sit will guarantee interaction among those who use the space you’ve designed.

 

Question #5 may represent the most difficult part of the process, and it demands frankness. How much time and money can be allowed for the overall plan? Perhaps the best way to answer is to divide this large question into smaller parts on a chart, table or checklist. The focus is to compare money on hand against the time available to implement the plan and put it into practice.

How much time and money do I have to budget:

+ During each season of the year;

+ During various times of each season;

+ During any particular week?

Tasks can be designated as:

+ Repetitive jobs such as lawn mowing, fertilizing, raking leaves or deadheading perennials and shrubs;

+ Hard physical jobs such as pruning trees and shrubs, edging beds and borders, or spreading mulch;

+ Dedicated tasks such as caring for a perennial border or annual flower bed;

+ Delicate tasks such as maintaining a rock garden or spring garden of native plants.

A common misconception is that once drawn up, master plans are easy to implement and maintain. So, finally, identify the jobs that must be done and who will do them. Ignoring this issue sabotages the best-made plans, soon leads to difficult and down-at-the-heel surroundings and tumbles homeowners into distress. For example, it is unrealistic for a wife to assume her husband will mow the lawn each week when he’d rather be fishing or playing golf. Then again, if a mother has three young children, she won’t have time to properly maintain an elaborate perennial bed. For success and comfort, this question must be realistically addressed.

Some of the questions blur into each other, but they create a beginning for sorting out the many parts involved in creating a realistic and livable master plan, whether it’s a simple or complex one.

If you have trees on your property landscape that have become overgrown, have died or are dying, you need to have those taken care of. Portland TT will help you out.

Does Leadership Development Really Work?

We all know that good leadership leads to better results than poor leadership. But does leadership development lead to better leadership?

Not an idle question. Organizations of all types—yours included, most likely—collectively spend literally billions of dollars every year on management development. (With an infinitesimal fraction of that gravitating to your faithful correspondent.)

Are those dollars well spent? Are executives getting their money’s worth?

For her Ph.D. dissertation, Doris Bowers Collins, asked those very questions (in 2002). Bowers, associate vice chancellor for student life and academic services at Louisiana State University, and former president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers International, analyzed the results of 83 studies of “managerial leadership development interventions.”

She determined that: Leadership Development certainly does help managers learn more about leadership and management.

Okay. But what about: affecting bottom-line results?

Good question. With a frustrating answer.

Dr. Collins basically concludes: We just don’t know.

There isn’t, you see, very much data to analyze on that subject.

In her words:

[E]ffectiveness of managerial leadership development programs across studies measuring financial outcomes could not be estimated, and conclusions cannot be drawn regarding financial outcomes until adequate empirical studies are performed.

Few studies are available perhaps because financial performance (or overall profitability) would be less responsive to individual behavior change in the short time period typically needed to train individuals, evaluate the training program, and report the results in the literature. Evaluations of programs with a financial outcome would require longer periods of time than many companies are willing to devote. In addition, organizations are typically resistant to publishing financial outcomes as a result of training programs, especially when the results are negative. Therefore, organizations are more likely to measure knowledge or behavior outcomes that are thought to be responsive to leaders’ behaviors within the time frame of the study.

So, as has been the case for a very long time, Leadership Development remains an idea that seems eminently reasonable. But, truthfully, remains essentially an act of faith in so far as quantifying actual return on investment.

Still, if you believe, like tens of thousands of your colleagues in the civilized world, that Leadership Development pays for itself many times over, you should definitely check out Richard Jadick’s content. He’s one of the best keynote speakers in town.

Decorating Kids Rooms

Planning a kid’s room is not a child’s play. It’s a complex process where an adult has to incorporate safety features with childlike fantasy. The difference between a child and an adult is that kid’s ideas and liking change more rapidly; they need a flexible environment. Thus kids’ room decor needs to be less expensive and easily changeable. They need separate areas for sleeping, playing, and studying. They also need more elbow space than adults. Similarly, younger kids need more floor space to spread out while playing. A typical room needs a bed, study table, and storage. These three things are fairly stable provided they are designed futuristically. Thus it is wise to invest in an interior design company like Brenda Lee. However, while decorating a room you can be as thrifty as possible. Below are some ideas for low-cost décor.

  1. 1) Preschoolers and toddlers love primary colors. These bright colors and complex patterns engage them for a longer time. The most inexpensive way to decorate their room is by using paint. However, their tastes change too fast so it is not a good idea to paint the walls or furniture in primary colors. The key is to keep these in a neutral color. Instead,
    1. You can make large murals on poster boards with complex patterns and colors and hang them. If you are not comfortable with painting it on your own you can just stick pieces of colored paper and some pictures from the magazines or stickers. These murals are not costly and can be changed easily. You can make three or four of them and change them every week or fortnight thus giving your child the change of environment.
    2. You can hang posters discussing some science phenomena or some theme depending on the age of the child.
  2. The addition of a colorful area rug is another way of adding color to the room. These rugs come in all sizes. Pick one most suitable for your child’s needs. Create a cozy corner with a rug and lots of pillows. The kids love to snuggle down for reading or quiet games there. You can also place a bookshelf next to it to define the purpose of the place. This can work for kids of all ages. A play-mat is another alternative for rugs. They can be made at home from a twin bed-sheet with batting placed between two sides. You can make reversible play-mat by painting different designs on both sides. Kids can make these themselves. This is very important especially if siblings share the room. Each one can have a corner for them and they can choose their colors and theme.
  3. Decorative shelving is another way of adding functionality and charm to a kid’s room. Buy simple, plain, and inexpensive shelves or make them out of plywood. Paint them in the desired color and decorate them with designs, motifs, or stickers. Affix them to brackets. They are great for displaying books and soft toys. Add a few colorful knobs, and it’s great for things like bags, belts, and caps.
  4. For some temporary storage, get some black or white metal carts that can be stored away when not in use.
  5. As a rule of thumb, storage in a child’s room should be accessible to them. If you have less floor space vertical storage becomes necessary. Then you can store all less frequently used items on top.
  6. Inflatable furniture is a quick and inexpensive way to fulfill the changing needs of furniture. It comes in a variety of colors and designs and is appreciated by kids of all ages. It is also easy to store away when not in use or when more floor space is needed.
  7. For preschoolers and toddlers, hang a large blackboard or whiteboard on the wall at their level. This satisfies their need to write on the wall without actually doing so.

Tea and fruits: a perfect combination

Hibiscus Mojito Tea Sparkler

This bright, refreshing, non-alcoholic drink combines brewed hibiscus tea, mint, lime juice, and agave nectar with sparkling water to serve over ice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tea bags Key Lime Hibiscus Tea
  • 5 large mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of Agave Nectar
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups sparkling water
  • Ice, for serving

Method:
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Place tea bags and mint into a heat-resistant pitcher. With care, pour in boiling water and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and mint. Stir in Agave Nectar and fresh lime juice. Let cool to room temperature. Combine cooled tea with sparkling water and pour over ice to serve. Garnish with lime slices and fresh mint.

Number of Servings: 5

Fruit Tea

Brewed tea is combined with orange juice, pineapple juice and sugar to make this recipe for a crowd.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tea bags
  • 3 Quarts water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 46 oz can Pineapple Juice
  • 1 Quart Orange Juice
  • 2 Lemons
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Method:
In a saucepan over medium heat put 1 quart of the water and the 5 tea bags; bring just to a boil. Take out the tea bags. Put sugar in a 1-gallon tea pitcher; pour the hot brewed tea over the sugar and stir till dissolved. Then add Orange juice, pineapple juice, remaining water, and squeeze 1 lemon into the mixture. Pour into tea glasses; garnish with lemon slices and mint.

Notes:
Great for any special event.

 

Number of Servings: about 20, 8- oz. servings

Mango Ice-T

Brewed black tea is combined with mango nectar and mint leaves, and served over ice. Mango slices are added for garnish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 qts. cold water
  • 6 bags black tea
  • 2 cups mango nectar
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Mango slices, to garnish

Method:
Boil water; add tea bags. Allow to steep 5 minutes, or until tea is dark. Remove bags and add nectar and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Place in pitcher with mint leaves. Pour into glasses with ice and garnish with mango slices.

Number of Servings: 4

These recipes are delicious, and can get even better and healthier if you use a great quality tea. If you don’t have a local tea store near you, there are online options such as Glocal Markets.

 

LIFE BALANCE: A Lifetime Journey, Not a Brief Trip

One of my favorite questions that I ask during an interview with a prospective management candidate is: “Tell me what you have done in the past to develop yourself and what you are currently doing?” The answer to this question reveals a great deal about the motivation and priorities of the candidate. We want to know if he has a motivational speech that will help him in his daily tasks as a manager. Let’s look at several typical answers and what I conclude from them.

Answer #1: I am normally so busy working such long hours that I don’t have much time to pursue developmental activities beyond what I do at work. Certainly this answer tells you that the candidate believes that he or she is a hard worker, but it also reveals a great deal about the priority that the person places on his or her personal development. When someone does not have enough time for self-improvement, it sends up a “red flag” of warning about the candidate’s motivation to succeed. There is always time to work on improving oneself IF the person really wants to. It has been my experience that most successful leaders recognize that developing and maintaining their leadership skills is a lifetime pursuit – not something that is only done at college or at company sponsored seminars. Contrast the above answer with the one below:

Answer #2: Since the day I graduated from college I have always pursued activities outside my job to improve my knowledge and skills. For example, after graduating from college I took additional courses in areas that I thought I needed and made a concentrated effort to read the latest management books in a variety of subjects. In addition, I am always reading business journals whenever I have a moment to spare such while traveling and waiting to see a doctor.

It is obvious which person is more motivated and likely to succeed in future jobs. Bennis and Nanus found, “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers. The researchers came to the conclusion that “leaders are perpetual learners.” Their nature is to always be curious about learning new things – asking frequent questions and probing for understanding.”

No matter what level you have achieved in your career, you cannot afford to become static. All too often, leaders reach a certain plateau in their organizations and then begin to coast. In a sense, they become bloated, out-of-touch caricatures…..happy, but ineffective. Simultaneously, the nature and scope of their operations continue to change, leaving them obsolete in terms of knowledge and skills. According to Jeffrey Schmidt, a managing director at Towers Perrin, “You have to assume that the half-life of the skill set you’ve got is about three to five years.”

Think of how enthusiastic and energetic you were to acquire new job knowledge when you first began your management career. More than likely, you were like a sponge – learning everything you could as quickly as possible. You probably took stacks of industry studies and trade journals home each night and studied them diligently.

The bottom line is that if you truly want to reach your highest potential as a leader, it is imperative that you continue this almost child-like zest for learning throughout your career. AND THIS MEANS MAKING TIME FOR YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. 

Tips for Minimizing Plumbing Problems

Plumbing problems can occur anywhere in the world, from north to south. Depending on where you live, it may be hard to get plumbers out right away because of the dense population in the area. Thus you can save yourself time and stress by minimizing your plumbing problems in the first place. Here are a few tips from contractors to help you do just that.

 

Use Drain Screens

You can purchase screens to go over your drains that will catch large particles that may fall in them. You might be able to buy them from some contractors, or you may need to go to a local home improvement store. You can put these screens on your sinks and in your bathtubs so you avoid clogged drains. The more hair and food particles you can keep out of the drain, the better off you will be.

 

Flush Frequently Most contractors would recommend frequent flushing to minimize clogs from your toilet. If you have a lot of toilet paper to flush at one time, try flushing after every three or four pieces so the toilet paper goes through easier. This may cost you a bit more money in water, but it will save you from having to hire contractors and plumbers to fix a large clog.

 

Install Proper Equipment It always pays to have contractors install efficient fixtures in your home. This could involve everything from the sink to the toilet and beyond, even your basement finishing. If your plumbing is old, it may be wise to renovate it. This will inevitably save you money on utility bills, and it will maximize the use you get from the plumbing in your home. You can ask some contractors to assess your current system to see if you do in fact need new equipment in the home. They will provide you with a quote for getting the job done.

 

Fix Problems Early on If plumbing problems do arise in your home, you should get them taken care of as early as possible. That will prevent you from having to hire contractors to completely tear apart your home. The sooner you can get the problem solved, the less effort it will take to fix it. Luckily, there are almost always contractors available to get your plumbing where it needs to be. You can look to them whenever you have an issue.

 

How dust mites can invade your home

Dust mites are tiny eight-legged insects that live in just about every home. They are so tiny that you can only see them with a microscope and even then only when you have them on a dark background. Although these mites do not pose a threat or biting or carrying disease, they are pests because they cause allergies. They do pose a threat to anyone who has asma because their presence makes the symptoms of the condition worse. 

They are usually found in bedrooms, in the dust bunnies under the bed and in the pillows and mattress. You can also find them in sofas and in carpeting because this is the environment that provides them with what they need to survive – dust, warmth, and moisture. They come from the same class of arthropods as spiders and ticks. They feed on the scales of dead skin that comes off the human body, which is why they love beds so much. 

It is not the dust mites themselves that causes a problem for humans. When they do eat the particles of skin, they must secrete a fungus that will digest the food before they eat it. This is necessary because they do not have a stomach to digest the food for them. Of course, they secrete more fungus than necessary and the food that is left behind has fungus left on it. Like all living things, they do excrete waste and it is the waste that causes allergies. When you realize that there could be a million or more of these dust mites in your mattress, than adds up to an enormous amount of waste.

If you lie on a rug or carpet containing dust mites, you may feel as if your skin is itching. This is one of the reactions they cause and of course, when you scratch, you provide them with more food. One of the ways you can combat this unseen problem is to make sure that you vacuum the carpeting on a regular basis. Take your rugs outdoors to beat them out and if the weather is suitable, leave the rug outdoors in the sunlight. Sunlight is one of the enemies of dust mites and is one step you can take to getting rid of them. 

In the bedroom, experts recommend placing dust covers over your mattress. And pillows. All bedding (blankets, bed sheets and pillowcases) needs to be washed in really hot water at last once a week. Washing in cold water may save you money on your water or electric bill, but it will not do anything about getting rid of the dust mites. Even with the dust proof covers in place, you do need to vacuum these as well – at least once a week. They keep the dust from getting on the mattress and pillow, but they do collect dust too. 

Everyone knows that children love stuffed toys. However, this is another area where dust mites live and breed. You should not have any stuffed toys in a child’s room and if your little one does have a favorite toy or blanket that he/she carries everywhere, it will need to be laundered more often than the regular bedding.

If you want help to make a perfect cleaning and get rid of all of those allergenic problems, contact Euro Eco and enjoy a satisfyingly clean home.

Teeth Grinding – Bruxism

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a condition wherein the affected person clenches or grinds his/her teeth unconsciously or involuntarily, either during sleep or while awake. People with bruxism are often not aware that this habit has developed until damage to the teeth, and other parts of the mouth, has been done. It is speculated that this habit develops due to the psychological effects of daily stress. In fact, the teeth can be so severely damaged that they become quite useless. About 5-20 percent of adults experience nocturnal teeth grinding, which is particularly problematic since it is generally not noticed until the damage has been caused to the teeth, which can take years.

What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?

 

The surface area of the lower and upper teeth, known as occlusal surface, is usually ground down to such an extent, that it creates an imbalance in the closure between the right and left sides of the mouth. This can lead to structural stress to the roots and tissues of the teeth and periodontal disease.

 

One of the effects of the teeth grinding in bruxism is tempromandibular joint syndrome, TMJ, wherein the cartilage surrounding the joints of the lower and upper jaws get irritated. This, in turn, can result in pain in the ears and jaw. Headaches due to muscle and joint strain are one of the common symptoms of bruxism.

 

In a nutshell, some of the symptoms of bruxism are :

  • abrasion of the teeth
  • damage caused to the tooth enamel
  • the inside part of the tooth, the dentin, being exposed
  • over-sensitivity of the teeth
  • pain in certain areas of the face
  • tense muscles of the jaw and face
  • jaw dislocation
  • headaches
  • indentations on the tongue
  • damage caused to the inside part of the cheeks
  • a clicking or popping in the temporomandibular joint

Like other sleep disorders, it is the other people that live with the person affected by bruxism who feel the brunt of the disease. This is because the teeth grinding sound can be fairly loud and thus disrupt the sleep of partners or roommates. As a matter of fact, it is usually the partner of the affected person or a member of the family who detects the condition.

 

Since many of the above symptoms occur in other conditions, it is best to consult a physician or dentist for an accurate diagnosis.

 

What are the Causes of Bruxism?

 

It is still not known what exactly causes bruxism, although it is thought that it occurs due to the presence of a number of factors preceding it. These are stress, oral or facial trauma, malfunction of the nervous system, and so on. It seems that certain types of personality traits may also be the root cause of teeth grinding, for example, those who are susceptible to nervous tension which cause frustration, pain, or anger. It also tends to affect people who are very competitive, have less patience, and are aggressive.

 

What is the Treatment for Bruxism?

 

The treatment for teeth grinding is based on two objectives: reducing the stress that is causing bruxism, and taking care of the teeth to prevent them from being damaged and acquiring a better smile.

 

Stress reduction can be achieved by the patient learning relaxation techniques. Activities that calm the body and the mind such as yoga and meditation can help in reducing the psychological stress which seems to exacerbate bruxism. The patient can also learn how to relax the facial muscles and jaws.

 

Behavioral responses leading to teeth grinding can be changed with the help of biofeedback. People affected with bruxism can learn to control the effects of their involuntary nervous system by learning how to respond properly to the changes of the conditions that affect the body.

 

A mouth-guard or splints can be worn at night which can help in absorbing the force of the teeth clenching or grinding, thus preventing the teeth from getting damaged.

 

The treatment for bruxism will be based largely on the affected person’s ability for tolerating the above methods. The trouble is, treatments like mouth-guards and splints usually cause disturbance in sleep, thus exacerbating the stress, which can worsen the condition instead of alleviating it. If you do suffer from teeth grinding, it is best to decide upon the treatment after consulting with your dentist.

Tips to ensure a quick home sale

Performing a few simple changes on your home before selling it can make a huge difference between a selling your property hassle free and a disappointment. Here are a few tips to remember if you want to ensure a quick home sale.

Finish all your do-it-yourself fixes before putting your house or flat up for sale. Many houses have their own list of unfinished minor repairs like a broken window, a squeaking door, a cracked floor or an unpainted corner that needs to be fixed.Getting these repairs done will make your home more attractive to buyers.

Organize your home space and do not leave any clutter lying around. Having a lot of things in your home space makes it look smaller which puts off buyers. Experts recommend that you remove at least one-third of the things in your home to make rooms look bigger which shows your home at its best. 

Clean your home and make every corner spic and span. Sweep the floors, vacuum them, wash your carpets, remove all cobwebs, and wipe all surfaces. Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms because these are the areas that usually contain the most dirt. Buyers usually spend more time checking these rooms because they reflect how well you take care of the entire home.Make your home look less personalized and make it appear more neutral. Remove your family portraits and all of your personal collections. If you need to repaint your walls, do so. This is a psychological approach which gives prospective buyers a feel that they can own the home.This increases the probability of selling your home

Make your home look more appealing by including decorations to emphasize certain spots in a room. Redesign as needed to make every room look eye-catching. Make your home appear comfortable to live in.

Hire an RICS valuer and have a pre-sale inspection for your home. This can help you find the areas that need to be repaired which you might have missed. Additionally, if your home is in perfect condition, the inspection results can attest to it which makes your home more saleable. Have a look at our

section to find the right surveyor for you.Set the appropriate price and advertise through a reliable person or estate agent. Marketing your home is key to selling your home so that you can have a greater chance of getting your advertisement to the right buyer. Make sure they advertise on the internet on sites like Rightmove.Try ringing round a few estate agents first as if you are a purchaser. Do they seem interested and take your details ?

When you found a buyer make sure that they are reputable, honest and really able to buy. Ensure that they have proof of finance and/or letters of reference.

Finally, if you are also going to a new place and want to know more about the moving process, check Busy Beez Movers for an easier and stress-free move..

Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Plan Unveiled

Ontario Government to Reduce Child Poverty by 25% in 5 Years

The Ontario Government’s new poverty-reduction plan has attracted both praise and criticism as it aims to reduce poverty in children by 25% over the next five years.

On December 4, 2008, the Ontario government released its long-awaited $1.4 billion poverty reduction plan as promised. Entitled “Breaking the Cycle”, the timing of this release was unfortunately overshadowed by the so-called “crisis in federal Parliament” and the threat of a non-confidence vote.

Fortunately, it was still business as usual for the Ontario government. As the plan was released, it drew praise from organizations such as the Toronto United Way and the province-wide 25in5 network, a coalition of organizations that lobbied for the plan and pushed for a target of 25% reduction in poverty over the period of 5 years.

In response to concerns of organizations, the Ontario Government agreed to the 25% in five-year target, although this target was narrowed to families with children. Organizations responding to these announcements felt it was the right start and everyone looked forward to its implementation. However, the plan was short on specifics and some organizations expressed concerns about poverty affecting individuals outside of families.

While the proposal itself held few specifics, it did promise to increase the Ontario Child Benefit from the proposed maximum of $1,200 per child per year to a new maximum of $1,350. Further, it promised to create a Community Opportunities Fund that will provide resources to community groups to provide services in low-income neighborhoods, as well as to undertake an extensive review of the myriad of regulations affecting people receiving Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) income.

Three small but significant changes will be immediately introduced. First, persons receiving OW/ ODSP who are enrolled in post-secondary education will now be able to keep all of their earnings and savings without it counting against their income supports, or that of their parents (if they are over the age of eighteen and still living at home). This change is significant, as currently, when students living at home are enrolled in college or university studies and receive their OSAP monies, this often puts the family’s asset levels above what is allowed, thus impacting on their parents’ continued eligibility for social assistance and/or social housing.

Second, participants who are engaged in employment assistance activities, such as looking for work or involved in a work-related course, will now be entitled to up-front child care costs. This is significant as this benefit is currently available only when one actually starts paid employment. The final change is administrative, giving those appealing benefits 30 days to ask for an internal review of their case, as opposed to the present 10 days.

While the government has not ruled poverty-reduction strategies out for other stakeholders, such as new Canadians and persons with disabilities, specific proposals for these groups were notably absent, which led to concerns expressed by the Ontario Coalition of Social Justice, ODSP Action Coalition and others, such as the Alliance for Equality for Blind Canadians.

While support for families with children is a good start, it was noted that 86% of ODSP recipients are individuals or couples without children. Other groups, such as new Canadians, aboriginals and senior citizens receiving only the public pension are also vulnerable to poverty.

With significant hikes in housing, utility and grocery costs, the real incomes of low-income persons have significantly declined. According to the ODSP Action Coalition, the maximum amount of money an individual receiving ODSP is given for housing is $454 per month. The average cost of housing in Ontario for a bachelor is $677 and for a one-bedroom, $812. This is very difficult for single individuals with disabilities to make ends meet, particularly as most of them are either unable to work or have significant barriers to the paid labor force.