Oct 25, 2015

Health Providers Against Poverty Applauds Social Assistance Review Report

TORONTO – Health Providers Against Poverty congratulates Social Assistance Review Commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh on a bold set of recommendations aimed at radically reforming Ontario’s Social Assistance system. The report, released yesterday, recommends an overhaul of supports for individuals on social assistance, as well as for other Ontarians living on a low income.

“People on social assistance – both Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program – have been living in extreme poverty for far too long. Working towards setting a basic liveable rate of social assistance, removing barriers that people face when entering the workforce and providing the working poor with much needed supports are positive steps forward in thinking about social assistance in Ontario,” said Laura Hanson.

“The greatest challenge now is ensuring its implementation. With parliament prorogued, and the Premier counting down the days to his retirement, there is every risk this report will be shelved,” said Gary Bloch, a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and a member of Health Providers Against Poverty Toronto. He continued: “Putting in place some of the quick wins, and an infrastructure to continue this commission’s work, presents a perfect opportunity for Mr. McGuinty to leave office with a legacy of improving the lot of some of the province’s most vulnerable residents.”

“The health evidence supports the view that an increase in social assistance benefits, support for re-entry to the workforce, and reduction of barriers in the system would improve the health of people and communities affected by poverty,” stated Katie Dorman, a Hamilton medical student and member of Health Providers Against Poverty. “This should be a priority for any government.”

Health Providers Against Poverty is a coalition of nurses, doctors, and other front line health providers that works to reduce poverty as a powerful health intervention.