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Toronto Anglican Diocese asks Commissioners to Issue Pre-election Report

The Social Justice and Advocacy Committee (SJAC) of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto made its submission to the Social Assistance Review Commissioners on July 13.

Titled “Building Justice”, the brief makes nine recommendations including introduction of the $100/month Healthy Food Supplement as the first step towards adequacy and a commitment to propose a comprehensive reform plan that will end deep poverty in Ontario by 2015.

The SJAC also asks the Commissioners to issue an interim report before the provincial election.

The Executive Summary of the SJAC brief follows and the full brief can be found in the Social Assistance Review tab.

Executive Summary

The Social Justice and Advocacy Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto thanks the commissioners, Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh, for this opportunity to express our concerns, and makes the following recommendations:

• We ask the Commissioners to propose a comprehensive social assistance reform plan that will end deep poverty in Ontario by 2015 and leave everyone living at least at the poverty line. This plan should include linking social assistance rates to the cost of living, so that rates will continue to be adequate to needs in the future.

• We ask that the Commissioners recommend no clawbacks or benefit reductions be applied against earned income for people on social assistance at least until they reach LIM-AT.

• We ask that the Commissioners recommend, as a first and immediate step, adding a $100/month Healthy Food Supplement to the Basic Needs Allowance for all adults receiving OW or ODSP.

• We ask that the Commission call for a continuing rise in the minimum wage, with a second set of 75-cent increases that would bring the basic minimum wage to $12.15 per hour in 2014, and index the minimum wage annually thereafter.

• We ask that ODSP rates be set at least at LIM-AT, with additional resources made available to meet specialized needs, and that no clawbacks or benefit reductions be applied against ODSP recipients at least until their income reaches LIM-AT.

• We ask the Commissioners to recommend that the Ontario government retain and expand the Special Diet Allowance so that all those who require medically prescribed special diets, whether social assistance recipients or qualifying low-income workers, are able to have full access to the essential food.

• With regard to the possibility of a housing benefit for all low-income people, we support this with certain cautions. First, the addition of a housing benefit must not be offset by a reduction in the shelter allowance portion of overall social assistance benefits, as this would leave social assistance recipients only marginally better off. Second, such a benefit would have to provide full coverage for shelter costs above 30% of gross income. Third, no distinction should be made between families and individuals – no low-income person should be required to pay more than 30% of gross income for housing.

• Special-purpose benefits should not become a substitute for the basic core income required to meet daily living requirements. Instead, we would endorse benefits as a complement to a system that provides more adequate rates of social assistance and a higher minimum wage.

• Finally, given that there will soon be a provincial election, we ask that the Commission release an interim report by the end of September, outlining a possible plan for ending poverty in Ontario. We further ask that the Commission take immediate action in recommending the $100/month Healthy Food supplement.


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