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McGuinty Government Puzzling Austerity Agenda

March 26, 2012 Poverty Reduction

Were you as surprised as we were when yesterday (a Sunday) the Premier announced that social assistance rates will be frozen this year and a scheduled increase in the Ontario Child Benefit will be slowed? Premier Dalton McGuinty made this announcement as he posed for cameras while playing basketball with children at the Cabbagetown Youth Centre in Toronto.

According to the Toronto Star the Premier stressed that “we are not prepared to balance this budget on the backs of families who may find themselves in difficult circumstances for the time being or on the backs of our children.”

Say what?

“Despite saying he doesn’t want to balance the budget on the backs of poor families and children, it seems that’s just what the Premier is doing,” said Jennefer Laidley, Research and Policy Analyst at the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) in a media release. “We’ll be watching to see just how the Premier defines ‘a balanced approach’ when the entire budget is released on Tuesday.”

Tom Cooper, Director of the Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction, tweeted that he is “losing faith that this government is serious about (its) Ontario poverty strategy.” Cooper noted that with food prices up 4.1% in February 2012 it doesn’t make sense to freeze social assistance rates. Apparently freezing social assistance rates will save government at least $60 million this year. Delaying the increase in the Ontario Child Benefit, which has been a significant help to people living in poverty, will save $90 million. $150 million is less than 1% of the government’s $16 billion deficit, but would make a big difference to the incomes of people living in poverty in Ontario, notes Jennefer Laidley.

If you share our concerns about the Premier’s “balanced approach” to the budget go to http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/news/84114 where you can join an e-action campaign and make your voice heard about his government’s austerity agenda.

Annamarie Bohus March 27, 2012

Thank you for posting about this. I did the same on FB and twitter. (that's where I found you.) I will post a link to your post on my FB page and also on Peel Poverty Action Group's page (of which I am a long-time member.) I will also post links to the e-action campaign you've put in above. My brother is one of those directly affected by these unfair (criminal?) austerity measures. He is disabled (cerebral palsy) but works part-time at low-wage, hard work job (loader at Lowes S. in Brampton). He is also on ODSP who claws back 1/2 of all his meagre earnings. He is always on the brink of eviction because of rent problems in his Peel Living apartment. My heart breaks for him. There is no justice! What are we to do? Governments always balance their books on the backs of the poorest, most vulnerable of society. This is unfair, unjust, unethical and criminal. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. Keep up the good work, and all the best, Annamarie (Brampton community activist)

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