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PFO Bulletin #11 – PFO’s Six Point Plan for Action on Poverty Eradication

A Good Faith Start to a Social Justice Agenda:

Prior to her election as Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and becoming the new Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne declared that she wanted to be known as the “social justice premier”.   This statement raised some hopes and expectations among community advocates for low income people for serious action on social assistance reform and the minimum wage.

Since assuming leadership of the Government, Premier Wynne has not been very specific about her social justice agenda. The Throne Speech in March included only a few brief references to affordable housing and several recommendations in the recent social assistance reform report by Commissioners Lankin and Sheikh.  Besides generally referring to interest in helping social assistance recipients move into employment, the only specific recommendation that the Premier has expressed an interest in acting on is the $200 per month earnings exemption for social assistance recipients with working hours before implementation of the clawback on their earnings.

Neither has either opposition party leader has shown any greater interest in serious social justice action to this point. Mr. Hudak’s policy proposals harken back to the worst visions of workfare and punitive practices of the Mike Harris days.  Ms. Horwath has shown no inclination to go beyond the earnings exemption recommendation in her negotiation on the spring provincial budget with the Premier.  Social justice for the most vulnerable is searching for a champion among our political leadership in Ontario.

It has been almost five years since the social assistance reform was announced as one of the cornerstones of the Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.  Such lengthy research, consultation and study were not required for an earnings exemption to be the only specific measure under consideration.

The budget to be delivered in April offers an opportunity for the Premier to show “good faith” in her expressed intention to be the “social justice premier” for all Ontarians.  To that end, Poverty Free Ontario invited Premier Wynne to meet with PFO delegates from across Ontario for a discussion of their proposals for a social justice agenda.  Sadly, the Premier’s Office has not formally acknowledged nor responded to the invitation.

Still, more than 100 PFO leaders from more than 20 communities all across Ontario came together in Toronto for a day on March 8.   They discussed and endorsed the following Six Point Plan for a Social Justice Agenda:

  1. Increase the Basic Needs Allowance by $100/month for OW and ODSP recipients as the first step towards adequacy in social assistance rates.
  2. Index OW and ODSP rates, starting immediately, to keep up with the annual inflation rate.
  3. Ensure that all increases to social assistance or changes arising from the proposed integration of the current programs do not lead to any reductions in basic needs and housing allowances for persons currently receiving ODSP and Ontario Works, or to cuts in benefits such as the Special Diet Allowance or the Disability Worker’s Benefit.
  4. Introduce an earnings exemption for social assistance recipients with working hours so that a 50% clawback on earnings does not apply on at least the first $200/month earnings, and preferably not on the first $500.[1]
  5. Commit to the principle that the minimum wage should ensure a full time, full year worker earns an annual income 10% above the Ontario Income Poverty Line [LIM 50], and to an implementation plan that will achieve that goal.
  6. Index the minimum wage immediately to keep up with the annual inflation rate.

The PFO community leadership assembled on March 8 asked that invitations be made to the Premier and Opposition Leaders for meetings with a cross-community PFO delegation prior to the budget to discuss a social justice agenda based on the preceding Six Point Plan.   

For further information contact:

Peter Clutterbuck, SPNO Coordinator
(416) 653-7947   cell (416) 738-3228
Web site: www.povertyfreeontario.ca

[1]It is fitting to footnote here that Commissioners Lankin and Sheikh’s recommendation for the $200 earnings exemption in their report actually proposes that the clawback on additional earnings be increased from the current 50% to 57% — not indicated in the body of their report but in footnote #46 on page 73, reducing the benefit to recipients of even this minimal measure of reform.

PDF Version of Bulletin #11


6 Responses to “PFO Bulletin #11 – PFO’s Six Point Plan for Action on Poverty Eradication”

  1. HI.Why did I not hear anything about cppd in all this. for people that are jusr living off cppd,they alot worse off.

    Posted by FRANK BRYAN | May 4, 2013, 4:05 am
  2. The earnings exemption should be $500 per member of “benefit unit”, because that is currently allowed for gifts. Most ODSP recipients don’t get gifts or any help from their families, many don’t even have families … but if I actually earn that much, I am clawed back between 85 – 120% including all sources of taxation (including clawbacks against my husband’s income). Who works at that taxation rate? I am about to quit.

    Posted by Angela Browne | March 21, 2013, 4:02 pm
  3. Just a word. We should fight any attempts to merge. This WILL result in cuts for all, regardless of good intentions. Municipalities cannot afford this. If there is another election and the Tim Hudak gets in or some similar right wing saber rattler, who says they cannot with the stroke of a pen cut transfers to the municipalities.

    Also, people with disabilities do NOT want to be “on welfare”. The general public has a strong disdain for people “on welfare”. If people with disabilities are put in this category, people will begin to disdain people with disabilities as well, such as is happening in the UK. We’d have EVERYBODY on assistance being “undeserving”, and a spike in hate crimes against people with disabilities (like in the UK).

    Also, I have been unable to find anybody that I know who is currently on ODSP, or who has ever been on OW, that wants to deal with the region again. The regions take a very punitive approach, frequently putting people’s housing at risk, etc. by holds and suspends for spurious reasons. I know of two in the last month where the matter has been brought to the Landlord and Tenant Board, one was evicted. This has to stop. I do not want to see this merger. People with disabilities are not “on welfare”, nor should they be treated as such.

    We are not going to change public attitudes to people on welfare by adding a new pool of people who will only too be considered “undeserving poor”.

    Posted by Angela Browne | March 14, 2013, 11:14 am
    • frist off werlfare is temp so why are so manhy still on it odsp is not I know people inculding myself who are trying despite challenges and disablities to better themself s the thing is the programs do noy help any i havwe been to many and none work and My odsp worker said what about school and student loan frist off no and second off i know people who finsh thier education and are not even disabled and are struggling and she want s higher tution fee s for students may sure disabled live on the streets excuse me go take a pay cut in a big way she s not cut out and is very uneducted to be in the power chair I m sorry To say

      Posted by daga | April 27, 2013, 3:52 pm
  4. New premier confirmed the $200 earnings exemption(100%)
    Has anyone asked her when premier actually start it publicly or directly??
    (Liberal is very very slow to implement such promise and makes vague regulation for workers to deny…)

    Posted by to. | March 14, 2013, 10:18 am
    • I wonder if the Premier is taxed or clawed back after the first $200 that she earns in her job, or if her income is deducted by at least 50% if her spouse is also working. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

      Posted by Angela Browne | July 3, 2013, 6:43 pm

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