On October 27, 2022, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) released its Economic and Budget Outlook, Fall 2022. It details the FAO’s projection of the Ontario government’s fiscal position, specifically that with unexpected and increased income, corporate and sales tax revenue, the Province has money to spare.
With the near $800 million the Province saved from reduced caseloads during the pandemic, and part of the $2.1 billion budget surplus from 2021-22, the Province could easily raise rates today by ten per cent across the board. This would be an immediate step in the right direction to doubling the rates, which would give people who rely on social assistance a fighting chance to survive.
People who rely on Ontario Works (OW) were not included in the five per cent increase that Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) clients started to receive at the end of September 2022. OW clients continue to receive only $733 per month. With inflation nearing seven per cent and the housing crisis, it is impossible for these clients to meet the costs of basic needs including for housing, food, transportation, digital access, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The Province has the funds to help Ontarians living in deep poverty. The Province is currently projected to have spending shortfalls of $40 billion from 2022-2028. Even if the Province uses its $44 billion in unallocated contingency funds to meet these costs, it will have $3.9 billion left in contingency funds. This money should be used to increase benefit rates and for better wraparound supports.
ISAC will continue to advocate for a doubling of both OW and ODSP rates and to peg the rates to inflation so that people who rely on social assistance can live a life of dignity.
The FAO’s Economic and Budget Outlook, Fall 2022 report can be read at this link.