The deadline to provide feedback to the Ministry of Community and Social Services on the Roadmap for Change report passed on January 5.
But that’s not the end of the opportunity to have your say.
It’s pre-Budget time, and the Government and Opposition parties are looking for input from the public on what the priorities are for the coming year’s investments. A provincial election is on the horizon for June, so this year’s Budget is an important barometer for where both Government and the Opposition parties stand.
Now’s the perfect time to tell them that the priority should be investing in a major increase to social assistance rates and creating a “standard flat rate” structure, to kick off the transformation of Ontario’s income security system that the Roadmap report recommends.
There has been enough talk about improving social assistance. The Government needs to take action, and the Opposition parties need to get on board.
On December 14, we spoke to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs as part of their pre-budget consultations.
We told them – again – that social assistance rates are far too low, and that a major investment needs to be made in increasing benefit rates significantly, so that people on Ontario Works and ODSP can live with health and dignity.
We told them that moving to the “standard flat rate” recommended by the Roadmap report would be a huge improvement for people who don’t even receive the basic rates that are so appallingly low.
And, because of the Roadmap report, this year we were able to tell them that investing in these priorities is no longer about investing in a system that everyone agrees is broken. Instead, it’s about taking advantage of an unparalleled opportunity to fix that system.
As well, we told them that investing in hiring the promised 175 more Employment Standards Enforcement officers has to be done now, not by 2021 as initially committed.
We need strong enforcement now, with employers across Ontario taking retaliatory action against workers for the rise in the minimum wage by reducing benefits, cutting paid breaks and shifts, and even firing workers.
As in past years, ISAC is preparing a pre-budget written submission that we will circulate as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, our speaking notes from the December 14 Standing Committee presentation are available below.
You can use the ideas in these speaking notes to craft your own submissions to the two important pre-budget processes that are taking place right now. Or just write what you think is important to say.
It’s important to have as many voices as possible calling for improvements to social assistance and investments in the Roadmap, and to similar investments in ensuring workers’ rights.
There are two ways to have your voice heard:
1. Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
This is committee of the Ontario legislature that is made up of representatives from all the political parties. They have the job of reviewing the government’s Budget after it is presented and proposing changes. Some of the changes they propose will be based on what they hear from people like you about what the public’s priorities are for government spending.
Right now, the Standing Committee is hearing from members of the public at meetings being held in various parts of the province. They’re also taking written submissions from members of the public about priorities for government spending.
The deadline for written submissions is 5pm next Friday, January 19.
Information about the consultation process is here: http://www.ontla.on.ca/committee-proceedings/committee-hearings-notices/files_html/Pre-Budget%20Consultations%202018%20-%20Advertising%20EN%20-%20Updated%20Dec.%2018%202017.htm
Send your ideas to the Standing Committee at:
Eric Rennie, Clerk of the Committee
Room 1405, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON M7A 1A2
2. Minister of Finance
The Minister of Finance also takes written submissions from members of the public about priorities for government spending, and hears from stakeholder at a series of roundtable meetings in various parts of the province.
Information about the consultation process is here: https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/consultations/prebud/
Send your ideas to the Minister at:
The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
c/o Budget Secretariat
Frost Building North, 3rd Floor
95 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 1Z1
There is no deadline yet for written submissions to the Minister, but sending something sooner is better.
- You can read our speaking notes to the Standing Committee here: Budget 2018 – Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs – ISAC Presentation – Dec 14 2017
- You can read the Roadmap here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/income-security-reform?_ga=2.254946632.1581527589.1512058338-689896907.1507649192
- You can read our backgrounder on the Roadmap here: http://incomesecurity.org/publications/social-assistance-reform/Income-Security-Roadmap-for-Change-ISAC-Backgrounder-Nov-17-2017.docx
- You can read our submission on the Roadmap here: http://incomesecurity.org/policy-advocacy/our-response-to-a-roadmap-for-change/
- You can watch our webinar on the Roadmap here: http://incomesecurity.org/policy-advocacy/webinar-a-roadmap-for-change-what-it-says-why-it-matters-and-what-you-can-do/
- You can read about the fight for workers’ rights here: http://www.15andfairness.org/
Thank you for taking action on Budget 2018!