Ontario’s strategy to combat poverty by eschewing hard targets and allowing future governments to set their own goals was blasted by opposition critics yesterday, but hailed by an anti-poverty group as groundbreaking.

The legislation won’t enshrine into law Premier Dalton McGuinty’s goal to reduce poverty by 25 per cent within five years or include penalties for missing the target.

“What we are doing, by way of legislation, is requiring that all governments have a target of their own, adopt a strategy of their own,” McGuinty said. “It hardens up our collective commitment to address poverty.”

That was done to allow future governments to set the goals themselves said Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews. Priorities must also be reviewed every five years.

Sarah Blackstock of the anti-poverty group 25 in 5 Network called the legislation “groundbreaking” because it acknowledges that poverty is not inevitable and can be altered by government policy.

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