The Ontario government has embarked on yet another consultation cycle on income security reform, which is delaying real action to reduce poverty.
Social assistance rates in Ontario continue to be inadequate, causing food and housing insecurity, and ultimately leading to poor health.
Research is clear that lower income and food and housing insecurity are associated with earlier mortality.
HPAP has joined several groups in calling for immediate increases to social assistance in Ontario. Please consider signing on.
This statement was also published today in The Toronto Star!
Apr 24, 2015
2015 Ontario Budget Fails People Living In Poverty
Toronto–Despite the Ontario government’s commitment towards its renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy, the 2015 Ontario Budget contains little that benefits people living in poverty.
“It’s encouraging that the government is not cutting back on prior investments in affordable housing, but we need much more to help the 1.7 million Ontarians living in poverty and the thousands of Ontarians without adequate housing” said Dr. Samantha Green, a family physician who works in Toronto’s downtown.
“I am happy to see the Government continue to explore the concept of Community Hubs, shared spaces for social services, education, and health services. And I welcome the expanded Youth Action Plan for helping at-risk youth attain employment,” said Andrea Perry, an Occupational Therapist. “I also commend the Government’s plan to index the Ontario Child Benefit to inflation and would like to see all social assistance indexed to inflation in this way.”
But the Budget does not include any target, timelines, or funding for the second Poverty Reduction Strategy. There are no new investments towards ending homelessness, one of the Government’s key Poverty Reduction pillars.
The 2015 Budget also includes a hidden cut—an increase of just 1% in social assistance rates beginning in the fall of 2015, well below the rate of inflation. “We know that poverty makes people sick, and current social assistance rates will only lead to further illness,” said Dr. Gary Bloch.
Jan 30, 2007
Health Providers Against Poverty proposes that, at a minimum, the upcoming Ontario Budget includes an increase in welfare rates of 40% across the board. This will help to prevent the most egregious health consequences of living in poverty, and will result in a healthier society.
While we support targeted initiatives to improve the subsidies provided to families with children, and to improve the job skills of people living on welfare, it is a simple increase in income that will allow people living on social assistance the opportunity to stay healthy. Legislated poverty is unacceptable in a society as wealthy as ours. We can afford to take this step to improve the health of our province, and it will have a greater real impact on the lives of people in need than almost any other measure this budget is likely to include.
Download the full 2007 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission by Dr. Gary Bloch