Today is Budget Day in Ontario – later today the new Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, will introduce the next provincial budget in the legislature.
What can we expect from this year’s budget?
Ontario’s politicians have been urged to remember that good public policy and smart investments can make a real difference in the lives of Ontarians living on low incomes.
And that serious investments must be made this year to reach the target of reducing child and family poverty by 25% by the end of this year.
Reducing poverty requires investment and policy change in a number of areas – social assistance, housing, health, labour, child care, and many others.
For people on social assistance, the government’s Throne Speech earlier this year indicated that both the government and Opposition parties are agreed on increasing the amount of money that people on social assistance can keep when they work.
That rule change is sure to be in the budget, but must not be accompanied by ending the ODSP Work-Related Benefit.
We might also see movement on other rules, like increasing the amount of assets that people on OW are allowed to have to be eligible for income support.
And advocates continue to push for a significant increase in basic OW and ODSP benefit rates.
But we’re also cautioning that those increases cannot come at the expense of the Special Diet Allowance, a program that is not a loophole, but a lifeline.