Poverty costs the Ontario government — and ultimately all of us — as much as $33 billion a year, according to a new report by Ontario food banks.

This is not only socially irresponsible, but economically unsound, argues the analysis being released Tuesday by Feed Ontario, formerly known as the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

“The report shows us that maintaining people in poverty is expensive — and that proven poverty reduction investments not only benefit our communities, but carry significant cost savings and revenue opportunities for the provincial government as well,” says board chair Michael Maidment.

The report, which links poverty to lost productivity and increased provincial spending on health care and criminal justice, says the Ford government’s focus on deficit reduction through decreased spending on social programs may be counter-productive.