ISAC used the Ontario election in 2007 to push all of the parties to make concrete commitments to reduce poverty across the province. We created a list of “key demands” and put together a kit called “Getting Poverty On the Agenda” for people across the province to use during the election. You can see both of these below.
Read ISAC’s Press Release in response to the election of a majority Liberal government on October 10, 2007.
Read ISAC’s All-Party Questionnaire.
Read the responses we received from the various political parties:
- Liberal Party of Ontario
- Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
- New Democratic Party of Ontario
- Green Party of Ontario
And here is a summary chart that shows the Party Commitments on Poverty.
Ontario Election 2007: ISAC’s Key Demands
ISAC focused on five key demands in the provincial election:
1. A comprehensive poverty-reduction strategy that uses a transparent process, includes clear goals and targets, and is developed in consultation with low-income people, policy experts and advocates.
Quebec and Newfoundland have already developed plans. Countries including Ireland, which has reduced its poverty rate from 15 percent to 6.8 percent in just ten years, show that poverty can be reduced when there is the political will.
2. An independent committee including low-income people, policy experts and advocates, to develop rational and just criteria for determining OW and ODSP rates (so that everyone has a decent standard of living, adjusted annually to the cost of living.)
This is the strategy that MPPs used when they wanted to raise their own salaries. Because of the extensive stereotypes of people on welfare, there is still not a lot of public support for increasing social assistance rates. But if the provincial government established an independent committee to study the issue and make recommendations on how social assistance rates should be set, it would provide an opportunity to reveal not just the inadequacy of the current rates, but the fact that they bear no relationship to the real cost of living. Then politicians might be more willing to significantly increase rates.
3. OW and ODSP rates that reflect the real cost of living and are indexed annually to inflation (including enough money to pay average rents and buy nutritious food and other basic necessities.)
Social assistance is supposed to help you get by when you are most in need, like times when you can’t find work or can’t work because of a sickness or disability. Yet a single person with a disability receives only $979 a month on ODSP. A single mom on OW with one child receives just $538 a month for rent when the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Ontario is $903. Being on OW or ODSP is a poverty sentence that no amount of budgeting can change.
4. Faster implementation of the Ontario Child Benefit.
The Ontario Child Benefit will go to all low-income families with children between the ages of 0 and 18, whether they are working or on social assistance. The amount is currently scheduled to increase gradually over five years, from $50/month/child beginning in July 2008 to $92/month/child by 2011. However, low-income families need that money now.
5. A $10 minimum wage NOW, adjusted annually to the cost of living.
The minimum wage is scheduled to increase from $8/hour to $8.75 in 2008, $9.25 in 2009 and $10.25 in 2010. But minimum wage workers working full-time, year-round need $10 an hour immediately just to get to the poverty line. All workers deserve to live above the poverty line – and shouldn’t have to wait years to get there.
ISAC’s Ontario Election 2007 Kit: Getting Poverty On the Agenda
We created this kit to help people across the province to engage with and inform their communities about issues of poverty, and to find out the positions of their local candidates on these issues.
Getting Poverty On the Agenda
- Questions for Candidates
- Social Assistance Rates backgrounder
- Ontario Child Benefit backgrounder
- Poverty Reduction Strategy backgrounder