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Ontario Government proposes more Poverty Reduction consultations; community groups say it’s time for Premier Wynne to act

Five years after Ontario’s Liberal Government announced a Poverty Reduction Strategy, hundreds of thousands of people still don’t have enough money to pay their rent and buy their food. Food bank usage in Ontario is at record levels – rising from 374,000 people per month in 2008 to 413,000 in 2012, including 160,000 children.[1]

Despite holding multiple consultations about poverty reduction and social assistance reform, the Liberal Government has consistently ignored thousands of community members:

  • In the spring and summer of 2008, more than 75 community consultations on poverty reduction were held across Ontario, including 44 with MPPs.[2] Community representatives consistently delivered the message that livable incomes and a minimum wage to raise a full-time, full-year worker out of poverty were critical to poverty reduction. The Liberal Government of Premier McGuinty ignored this input.
  • In late 2008, people in communities across Ontario urged the government to set a target for poverty reduction in general – not just child poverty. Children live in families, they pointed out, and reducing overall poverty will inevitably help children. This message was ignored, and the government’s target of lifting 90,000 children out of poverty is short by 48,000 as of 2011.[3]
  • In 2011 and 2012, four out of five community briefs to the Commission on Social Assistance Reform argued that adequate social assistance rates was a primary issue.[4] The final report of Commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh recommended an immediate rate increase of $100/month. The Liberal government of Premier Wynne was deaf to its own commissioners: the 2013 budget increased social assistance to recipients of Ontario Works benefits by only $14/month.

Dalton McGuinty’s last act as Premier was to cut the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit, which further worsened the destitution of Ontario’s most vulnerable.

Now, after five years of the Liberal Government failing to deliver on social assistance reform, it lacks credibility to call for more consultation in the absence of action on what the community has recommended to date.

We believe Premier Wynne does not need any further consultation to reduce poverty in Ontario. The Liberal government can respond now to the core demands that people from communities across Ontario have been making for five years. Our participation in any consultations on a new poverty reduction strategy will be to assert three core demands.

Our Demands

Premier Wynne government can reduce poverty and demonstrate her commitment to social justice by acting on the following:

  1. Raise the rates
  • Immediately increase the base rate of social assistance by $100 a month without paying for it by cutting other benefits.
  • Restore the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.
  1. Protect  the well-being of people with disabilities
  • Discuss the Commission on Social Assistance Reform recommendations regarding ODSP with community advocacy groups representing people with disabilities.
  1. Reduce poverty for everyone
  • Raise the minimum wage now to 10% above the poverty line.
  • Set targets that reduce and eventually end poverty for everyone – children, families and communities.

Commitment to Social Justice

We are committed to social justice for people in Ontario who live in poverty. We will not stop until poverty is ended.

A social justice strategy to end poverty requires providing people with enough money for food, housing and everything else that ensures a life of health and dignity.

It is time for Premier Wynne to demonstrate her commitment to social justice with constructive social and economic policies. She can begin by acting on our three demands.

For further information, contact:
Peter Clutterbuck, Poverty Free Ontario
(416) 653-7947


5 Responses to “Ontario Government proposes more Poverty Reduction consultations; community groups say it’s time for Premier Wynne to act”

  1. Here is the governments poverty reduction strategy

    For the latest on the merging of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW)

    Prepaid Benefits Cards Are Here

    Cuts to Benefits Everywhere

    Behind Closed Doors The Merger

    What People On ODSP Are In For According to The Conservatives

    This Is The Real Story From The Conservatives

    Information About The Merger

    Will The Liberals Join The Consevatives And Merge ODSP and OW?

    The Battle Begins, ODSP merging with OW.

    Trouble on the horizon! Merging ODSP With OW

    For the latest on the merging of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) go to http://welfarelegal.blogspot.ca/

    Ron Payne
    Welfare Legal
    Hamilton Ontario
    Email welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

    Blog http://welfarelegal.blogspot.ca/

    Posted by Ron Payne | November 8, 2013, 3:44 am
  2. If both the Federal and Provincial Governments had the wherewithal and political will to actually address the problem : that would be the first place to start. It’s sad that their collective emphasis seems to only favour corporate welfare (eg., lowering tax rates and/or subsides). Why not have this approach for societys most vunerable? I personally think it’s because the poor are looked upon as a powerless group, and unworthy of the same consideration. If a combination of incremental wage increases and tax relief for those below the poverty line are carefully implemented along with a national training program (which is long overdue), poverty should cease to be the problem it currently is. I also think our political system of partian politics plays a critial role; whereupon the party that stands for social justice is to be demonized for the cost of such measures by the other parties for political gain and leverage, rather than admitting this could be an effective approach if all involved took a co-operative attitude rather than the combative system that currently exists ( eg., proportional representation vs. the first past the post system in place). “The poor and disadvantaged will always be with us” is a self -serving covenant of government and business, usually legislated to achieve some form of benefit to both parties at the expense of the former. If those in power are rewarded equally for mediocre practices and policies; then why bother to sincerely address reform when you can gain an additional advantage again by pretending to go through the motions? Control and profit are the fundamental motivations for those in power : the illusion of caring for others affected is only to permit their co-operation without mass resistance (in which the cost of using force to accomplish these goals is a final last resort to achieve the same means – abusing the power of Police resources). In summary, there needs to be a collective policy shift of all parties involved; with an emphasis that the status quo is no longer acceptable – all parties must be equally responsible for change to be successfull. A new model needs to replace what we currently employ politically – and the costs for these changes must be factored in to build a better society for all (not just for profit and exclusivity).It’s absurd our elected officals would rather pursue traditional means to ignore, justify and perpetuate these problems; rather than actually try to work together in a collective fashion to benefit the entire Province/ Country. How can we consider ourselves globally if we can’t even manage our own Province/ Country properly? Let us stop the insanity that currently prevails (we can’t afford to listen to the electorate but we can afford to have an undemocratic leader appoint numerous costly committees and ignore the reccomendations at will). Enough with the posturing, or is that all you know how to do?

    Posted by Rhonda Lesage | November 7, 2013, 8:28 pm
  3. The government must be very careful when it comes to spousal incomes while on ODSP.
    Taxpayers would be extremely upset if high priced lawyer’s wives could collect full ODSP benefits.

    Posted by Ron Payne | July 26, 2013, 8:07 pm
    • People on ODSP do not hang out with wealthy people. If spousal income was left alone, there would not be a flood of wealthy people lining up to marry ODSP recipients. It just isn’t going to happen. The most that will happen is that some families will be able to rise above poverty, but I doubt they will become millionaires.

      Posted by Angela Browne | August 24, 2013, 12:34 am
  4. The poverty reduction plan did nothing for my family. Until they deal with problems that ODSP rules have about spousal income, imposition of barriers to self-employment, having to drain all of one’s retirement income before going on … I am personally so mad at this government’s cocky attitude thinking that they have achieved anything by this stuff, while they continue to trap families into legislated poverty.

    Posted by Angela Browne | July 26, 2013, 7:43 pm

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