Today, Minister MacLeod announced her plan for Social Assistance in Ontario. This plan represents a deep misunderstanding of the roots of poverty and it is yet another short-sighted cut from a government that doesn’t believe in helping those who are most vulnerable.
This is absolutely a cut, and to call it an “efficiency” is to lie to those relying on social assistance. This is a cut to families, a cut to people in crisis, and a cut to people with disabilities. This plan doesn’t understand or take into account the complexity of the daily reality faced by people experiencing poverty.
As we’ve come to expect, today’s announcement was low on details. What they did tell us, is that recipients will have to wait 18 months to learn their fate. Individuals who can access work will keep less of their money due to higher claw-backs, and overall there will be fewer people who can access social services due to the new definition of disability.
Many questions remain:
- Will this government maintain the 100% upload Ontario Works assistance costs, or will they download it back to municipalities?
- What will the financial incentives be that the Minister described for finding work? Does this mean that social assistance rates will be lowered after you’ve been on social assistance for a number of months?
- How will this government support the challenges that our most vulnerable are facing today in the next 18 months?
- Why didn’t the Minister even mention our commitment to First Nations Communities, who we know are disproportionately affected by poverty?
I have spoken with many experts and advocates over the last few weeks who have reached out to us, concerned about what was to come today. What I can tell them is that I will continue to stand for fairness in social assistance, and to fight for this government to invest in people. I will never give up that fight.
The cuts announced today are solely based on ideology, not on evidence or even on consultation. Ontario Liberals believe that to create a better social assistance system, we should be investing in recipients, not forcing them into poverty.