MPP Lalonde on the vital importance of social assistance

The Harris cuts were on the wrong side of history. The Liberals were elected in 2003 to make positive change, on social assistance and more broadly across government. Investing in people builds us all up, and that core value guided our action in government.

We got good work done on social assistance.

We increased social assistance in 13 of the 14 years.

We eliminated the provincial claw back of child support payments and the Canada Child Benefit.

We put thousands of dollars into the pockets of families across Ontario.

We increased asset limits and gift exemptions.

We increased the mileage rates for medical travel.

We introduced a reloadable payment card to ODSP clients.

We made life simpler by letting recipients use their OHIP cards to get their prescriptions filled.

We conducted the most thorough consultation with people with lived experience of poverty, experts in the field and First Nations communities that this province has ever seen.

We tested the Basic Income Pilot to find a better way to deliver social assistance. The Basic Income made people’s lives better and allowed them to get back on their feet, go to school, rent an apartment and feed their kids.

Our 2018 plan cut red tape by eliminating outdated, punitive barriers to access. This means help would be more reachable for the almost 1 million people who rely on social assistance.

Doug Ford has not prioritized low-income people. Communities are reaching out to the Liberals because we made life easier in Ontario, and we are still committed to that goal. They are concerned about what might come–even more cuts to services for those who need this support the most.

Today, we are at a crossroads. Doug Ford and Lisa MacLeod can decide to move forward with reforms that will make positive changes in the lives of low-income people, or they can turn back the clock to the Harris days. The ball is in their court.

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