Income Security and Assistance during COVID-19: Open Letter, #RaiseTheRates Campaign, and Press Conference

Income insecurity is a significant determinant of health, and during the COVID-19 pandemic health disparities will only be worsened. Many Ontarian’s will be facing a loss of income during this pandemic, but low-income Ontarian’s will be hit the hardest. Many low-income Ontarian’s cannot afford to buy large amounts of food and supplies at one time, forcing individuals to go out frequently against public health recommendations. Many will also lose services they rely on to make it possible to narrowly get by each month, such as drop-ins and food banks. Some will be forced to continue to engage in precarious work, increasing their risk of exposure to COVID-19, as current social assistance rates do not provide a livable income even during the best of times.

During our current time of crisis, we must ensure that no one is left behind!

HPAP has been working with many community organizations to address income insecurity amongst low-income Ontarian’s during this pandemic.

Open Letter

Please help us share an Open Letter released by the Income Security Advocacy Centre. The letter demands that social assistance rates are raised and that federal benefits such as Employment Insurance or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit are not subject to clawbacks. The letter has been signed by over 130 community organizations.

Help us share this action

Link to article in the Toronto Star by Laurie Monsebraaten: Open Letter urges Ontario to boost support for people on social assistance

Link to the Open Letter:

#RaiseTheRates Campaign

On April 7th, HPAP led a campaign to flood Minister Todd Smith’s phone lines to advocate for our demands in the Open Letter.

Keep the momentum going on this campaign

Step 1: Call Todd Smith’s office at 1-613-962-1144, feel free to use our script below

Hi, my name is ______ and I am a ______(social assistance recipient, student, healthcare provider, mother, business owner etc.) in Ontario. I’m calling Minister Smith’s office today to ask him to help to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities by raising social assistance rates and stopping the clawbacks on federal income supports for social assistance recipients. If low income Ontarians have enough income to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will protect us all by reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

Step 2: Take a picture of yourself calling Todd Smith on social media with the hashtags #RaiseTheRates and #NoClawbacks

Step 3: Share our posts

Press Conference

On April 8, 2020, Arash Ghiassi (lawyer at Income Security Advocacy Centre) hosted a press conference discussing the Open Letter released by the Income Security Advocacy Centre. The conference was co-hosted by Andrea Hatala (Recipient Co-Chair, ODSP Action Coalition), Dr. Jonathon Herriot (Family Physician and Health Providers Against Poverty Co-Chair), and Talia Bronstein (VP Research and Advocacy, Daily Bread Food Bank).