Minister MacLeod’s announcement to cut social assistance rates by 1.5 per cent will take approximately $150 million out of the hands of people who are among the most vulnerable in Ontario.
“People on social assistance continue to live well below the poverty line and would have used the additional much-needed money to pay for basic necessities,” says Jackie Esmonde, Staff Lawyer at the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC).
Important reforms to meet the unique needs of Indigenous communities have also been put on hold. Ending these changes will have a very negative impact on people experiencing the deepest poverty in our province and demonstrates a profound disrespect for the needs of Indigenous people in Ontario.
Minister MacLeod also cut or cancelled other positive changes that were slated for this fall, including:
- Reducing the amount of money that people on Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) can keep in their pockets while working.
- Cuts to other allowances such as the guide dog benefit for people with vision impairments and the advanced age allowance for people who are older.
- Cancellation of a change to the definition of “spouse” from three months co-habitation to three years.
- Cancellation of full basic benefits to people who get housing and food from the same provider, including many people living with disabilities.
- Cancellation of increased support to people living in Northern Ontario, where daily living costs are higher.
A backgrounder about the changes that have been cancelled is available here: http://incomesecurity.org/public-education/important-changes-coming-to-ow-and-odsp-changements-importants-aux-programmes-dot-et-du-posph/.
“The way forward for social assistance reform is already comprehensively mapped out and low-income people in Ontario have been through enough reviews about reform,” says Jennefer Laidley, Research and Policy Analyst at ISAC. “Community members and advocates fought for these changes for many years and Minister MacLeod’s announcement betrays their hard work and their expectations for a better future.”
The recommendations of the “Income Security: A Roadmap for Change” report should be implemented to support people in their efforts to participate in the labour market and in their communities.
The government is also breaking a campaign promise to keep the Basic Income Pilot Project. Four thousand Ontarians participating in this pilot project will see their lives turned upside down by this sudden decision.