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Social Assistance Bill Clears Hurdle

April 17, 2016 Poverty Reduction

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens CAN change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has". -Margaret Mead


It was an extraordinary day at Queen's Park on Thursday April 14th.

For the first time in a generation, there is genuine opportunity to reform Ontario's desperately low social assistance rates and pull 900,000 people who rely on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program out of deep poverty - and it was an effort led by Hamilton.

Bill 185, an act to establish a social assistance rates research commission was presented for second reading by MPP Paul Miller yesterday and received the unanimous support of all political parties in the Legislature; MPPs voted for the idea by an 80-0 margin.  An early incarnation of the bill had been presented by Ted McMeekin in 2007 but died on the order paper when an election was called that year.  Since then, social assistance recipients have fallen further behind and often cannot afford rent, food or other essentials - and so go without.

Evidence-based social assistance rates have been a passion of lawyer Craig Foye of Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, and he has worked tirelessly to make it a reality in Ontario.  You can watch Wednesday's media conference from Queen's Park with Craig, HRPR's Laura Cattari, Campaign 2000's Anita Khanna and Paul Miller discuss why the bill is so important.

A bus-load of supporters traveled to Queen's Park yesterday to watch the debate and to see democracy in action. Thanks to all who participated, and thanks to all who sent their best wishes as well!

The bill will be going to the Standing Committee on Regulations & Private Bills which means it ain't over yet... We will be collaborating with provincial partners to ensure the bill continues to move forward in a speedy fashion.  Families and individuals on social assistance have waited a long time for action, thanks to this renewed effort by Paul Miller and his colleagues, hope is on the horizon!



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