November 23, 2018
(TORONTO, ON) – Yesterday’s announcement on changes to Ontario’s social assistance programs are continuing Ford’s attack on Ontario’s most vulnerable, says Ontario Federation of Labour.
“Without a strong social safety net that is designed with compassion and inclusivity at its core, the policies outlined by the Ford government will only push people deeper into poverty,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “In a province that has eliminated workplace rights and refuses to provide a decent minimum wage of $15 an hour, these changes to social assistance programs will inevitably drive more Ontarians into poverty.”
The government, for example, will align the definition of ‘disability’ under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) with federal guidelines. This means excluding a significant portion of those currently eligible for the program, including injured workers, those with episodic disabilities, and people with certain mental health issues.
“The government has made it that much harder for people with disabilities to access ODSP,” said Buckley. “By raising the eligibility threshold, this government has decided to further marginalize some of Ontario’s most vulnerable residents. It’s absolutely shameful.”
The Ford government also announced that ODSP recipients can earn $6,000 a year before their support is reduced. The clawback rate on earnings above that amount will increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. For those on Ontario Works, the threshold will be raised to $300 per month, which is $100 less than previously announced earlier this year. Again, earnings above the threshold will be subject to an increased clawback rate of 75 per cent.
The government already slashed a modest three per cent rate increase that was to take effect this fall and 18 other rule changes that would have improved the lives of people on social assistance. 960,000 Ontarians – adults and children – are recipients of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.
“The heartless decisions announced today, combined with this week’s cancellation of workplace rights, will be a deadly combination for many Ontarians,” said Buckley. “This government must increase its revenues – not cut help for people who need it the most. Ontarians must be able to access the help they need – not be kicked to the curb by the very government that swore to protect ‘the little guy’.”
Weak workplace protections, combined with weak social assistance programs, create a deadly combination. It leaves many Ontarians moving between low wage jobs and social assistance, with neither providing adequate support to move out of poverty.
The Ontario Federation of Labour, which represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario, supports the work of community partners – such as the Raise the Rates Coalition, and the mission to eradicate poverty in Ontario.
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