Help sup­port so­cial as­sis­tance re­form

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Anti-poverty ac­tivists rally for so­cial as­sis­tance bill ( Jan. 30)

This story shines a light on the low rates of On­tario’s so­cial as­sis­tance. After a dras­tic cut (21.6 per cent) in 1995, the On­tario gov­ern­ment has pro­vided an an­nual in­crease of 1 per cent.

After 13 years of in­fla­tion (about 5 per cent a year for food and 2 per cent for ac­com­mo­da­tion) the buy­ing power of so­cial as­sis­tance has been con­tin­u­ously shrink­ing. Un­at­tached peo­ple re­ceiv­ing On­tario Works are now $104 short each month of be­ing able to buy a nu­tri­tious diet.

Tax­pay­ers of­ten re­sist in­creas­ing the rates, not re­al­iz­ing that many re­cip­i­ents are side­lined be­cause of phys­i­cal or men­tal dis­abil­i­ties. They are un­aware of the cir­cum­stances of re­cip­i­ents like Donna B. She had to sur­vive on OW ($681 in 2016) for over a year after her car en­gine backed up, se­verely dam­ag­ing her lungs. She had dif­fi­culty breath­ing, could no longer work, and had to re­lin­quish the care of her chil­dren to her ex-hus­band. Be­cause her con­di­tion was not rec­og­nized by the On­tario Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Pro­gram, she could not af­ford the healthy diet she needed for her re­cu­per­a­tion.

Paul Miller, MPP for Hamil­ton East-Stoney Creek is push­ing the gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish a So­cial As­sis­tance Re­search Com­mis­sion to rec­om­mend re­al­is­tic rates. If you would like to help, please call the au­thor at 519-6473927 (not long dis­tance from Hamil­ton). Sally Palmer, Hamil­ton

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