May­ors ask staff: Could one re­ally live on $733 a month?

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE LOWRIE

How can some­body live on $733 a month?

That was the ques­tion asked by Leeds and Grenville may­ors when they learned that $390 for shel­ter and $343 for ba­sic needs is the max­i­mum that a sin­gle per­son can re­ceive from On­tario Works.

The an­swer, ac­cord­ing to Kim Lit­tle, man­ager of in­te­grated ser­vices for the coun­ties, is: It’s dif­fi­cult.

Lit­tle said re­cip­i­ents might have to take in a room­mate to save costs, or live in a room­ing of­fice that of­fers a shared kitchen and bath­room. In Brockville, such rooms can be found for about $425 a month, she said.

As for food, the re­cip­i­ents of­ten end up hit­ting the food bank and other food char­i­ties, Lit­tle told the joint ser­vices com­mit­tee of Leeds and Grenville this week.

Lit­tle said that about 60 per cent of the 1,662 house­holds col­lect­ing On­tario Works in Leeds and Grenville are sin­gle peo­ple with no de­pen­dents.

Lit­tle noted that the On­tario Works rates are the same across the prov­ince, ad­ding that she can’t imag­ine how a sin­gle per­son could live on $733 a month in Toronto “be­cause I know how dif­fi­cult it is in Leeds and Grenville.”

For a sin­gle par­ent with a cou­ple of young chil­dren aged 4 and 7, the rates are more gen­er­ous.

A sin­gle mom – the sin­gle par­ent usu­ally is a mother – with two kids would get $2,055 a month. That’s $1,057 a month from On­tario Works, and an ad­di­tional $998 from the fed­eral child tax ben­e­fit, which is mailed out on the 20th of ev­ery month.

re­cip­i­ents are al­lowed to sup­ple­ment their as­sis­tance by work­ing. The first $200 is al­lowed with­out af­fect­ing ben­e­fits, she said. af­ter that, the ben­e­fits are clawed back 50-50.

lit­tle told the com­mit­tee that the num­ber of leeds and Grenville res­i­dents liv­ing on so­cial as­sis­tance has been drop­ping in 2018, due al­most en­tirely to the im­proved job mar­ket.

still, about 115 new peo­ple ap­ply for as­sis­tance ev­ery month on av­er­age, but only 75 – 65 per cent – gen­er­ally qual­ify for the aid, she in­di­cated. in com­par­i­son, an av­er­age of 102 peo­ple go off as­sis­tance each month, she said. as for the fu­ture, lit­tle said her depart­ment is still wait­ing for de­tails of the new pro­vin­cial govern­ment’s 100-day plan to mod­ern­ize so­cial as­sis­tance.

lit­tle said the govern­ment wants to strengthen the ties be­tween on­tario Works and em­ploy­ment on­tario and in­crease the $200 earn­ing ex­emp­tion for so­cialas­sis­tance re­cip­i­ents.

as well, the govern­ment plans to tighten the rules for qual­i­fy­ing for on­tario dis­abil­ity in 2019, she said. if that hap­pens, lit­tle spec­u­lated that the on­tario Works caseload might grow as peo­ple move from the dis­abil­ity pro­gram to reg­u­lar so­cial as­sis­tance. [email protected]­

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