Raise the Rates Coalition Response to Ford Government's Announcement on Changes
to Social Assistance
The Ford Conservatives announced three significant changes to social assistance:
- They are cutting in half the 3% increase in social assistance rates that was scheduled
to come into effect in September this year.
Progressive changes to regulations scheduled to be implemented later this
fall have also been "paused," and will likely be canceled.
- The 3 year basic income pilot program, which started last year, is now being canceled
and “wound down.”
- A series of sweeping changes to social assistance are currently under review and
will be announced within the next 100 days.
We have three things to say in response:
- The scheduled 3% increase passed by the Liberals was woefully inadequate, but it
would have marked the second time in almost a quarter century that social assistance
income would have risen above the rate of inflation. Instead, the 1.5% cut will
now yet again plunge social assistance income below the rate of inflation, making
social assistance recipients even poorer.
- We have been critical of the Basic Income pilot project, but canceling the pilot
a year after it was underway demonstrates a reckless disregard for the lives of
2000 people on the pilot who planned their lives on the assurance of having a set
income for 3 years, and who must now scramble.
- The sweeping changes to social assistance that are being ominously hinted at are
likely to be the same brand of ruthless right-wing reforms we saw under Mike Harris.
We can expect dramatic restructuring of social assistance that cuts supports, forces
those on social assistance, including disabled people, into the most exploitative
jobs, and increases punitive surveillance and “fraud” crackdowns of the poorest
people in this province.
Clearly, this is the war on the poor component of the Doug Ford agenda of neoliberal
austerity. The Tories are forging a punishing regime of social abandonment that
creates misery and utter desperation. It is the cutting edge of their attack and
a compelling reason why we must unite and build a movement to defeat this Government
and all it stands for.
Raise the Rates is a campaign to fight poverty by raising social assistance rates
in Ontario. Jointly organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP),
Put Food in the Budget, the
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, ODSP Action Coalition, Ontario Public Service Employees Union,
Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty, Poverty Makes Us Sick Waterloo Region, Poverty
Makes Us Sick Ottawa, Parkdale Community Legal Services and other grassroots anti-poverty
organizers and trade union allies from across Ontario. We are a growing movement
united in fighting for:
- Raising social assistance rates
- Stopping the erosion of social assistance benefits
- Demanding a living wage for all
Put Food in the Budget is a grassroots activist group working to hold the Ontario
governments to their promises made - but not kept - to reduce poverty. Our broad
goal is achieving social and economic justice for the growing numbers of poor people
in this province.
You can also keep up with Put Food in the Budget on Twitter or Facebook.