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Ontario Pre-Budget Consultations Offer Opportunity to Advocate for Social Assistance Reform

January 9, 2017 Poverty Reduction

We recently wrote to the Ontario government in response to their pre-budget consultations.

Our letter supported a submission by the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC). The ISAC submission can be found at: http://incomesecurity.org/publications/provincial-budgets/Ontario-Budget-2017-ISAC-pre-budget-submission.pdf

The ISAC submission endorsed a call from the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC) to invest $1 billion in social assistance this year.

The Clinic has long been concerned that social assistance rates are not set through any evidence-based methodology. Rather, the rates are politically determined.  The amounts have no relation to the actual costs of rent, food and basic necessities.  In fact, the Commissioners in the final report of the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario pointed out that existing social assistance rates are arbitrary numbers.

Since 2006, we have called for the creation of a board to set these rates based on the actual costs of living.   Currently, there is private members legislation) before the legislature. If Bill 6 is passed such a mechanism would be put in place.  Similar legislation was proposed in 2007 but died on the order paper when the Legislature was prorogued. 

As an alternative and in the event that a social assistance rates review board is not established, we are supporting the call for a $1 billion investment in social assistance.  This investment would include a 10% increase in rates.  In addition, we support changes to a number of the social assistance system’s rules as detailed in the ISAC report. These rules penalize people rather than support them.  It is for good reason that they are called “stupid rules.”

Resources

Find out more about social assistance reform at http://incomesecurity.org/policy-advocacy/1-billion-for-ow-odsp-isacs-2017-pre-budget-submission-1-milliard-de-dollars-pour-ot-le-posph-soumission-prebudgetaire-2017-du-casr/

In addition you can learn more about ideas for getting rid of some of the “stupid rules” faced by those receiving social assistance in Ontario at https://opicco.org/2017/01/09/getting-rid-of-stupid-rules/

And, finally, you can get more information on the campaign to support Bill 6

at http://fixthegap.hamiltonpoverty.ca/

 

 

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