Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

The government of Ontario will make changes to the provincial social security

The government of Ontario will make changes to the provincial social security

"Spending more money on a broken program wasn't going to help anyone", Lisa MacLeod, the Ontario minister responsible for social services, told reporters Tuesday.

People on social assistance and the people who work with them say they're disappointed the Ontario government is cutting a planned increase in half.

The Ontario government said in a press release that it will be exploring new avenues to lift its low income residents-the number of whom has risen by 55% in the last 15 years-out of poverty.

The PC Party has now introduced an accelerated 100-day deadline to develop and announce a "sustainable" social assistance program.

The provincial government will reduce the previous government's planned three per cent increase to social assistance rates to just 1.5 per cent. "The price of gas going down is not going to make a difference to them", Garvey said.

There are approximately 4,000 people enrolled in the program. Almost a million people use the two systems and someone on Ontario Works is now entitled to a maximum of $721 a month. In rationalizing the decision, she explained that the program was a disincentive to participants becoming "independent contributors to the economy".

MacLeod also announced the province would be "winding down" its basic income pilot project, which gave payments to low-income people in certain communities.

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How is a 1.5-per-cent increase to welfare rates kinder to recipients than a three-per-cent hike?

Sherry Mendowegan has been able to pursue post-secondary education as a result of participating in the Ontario basic income pilot program.

For participants with jobs, the basic income was reduced by 50 cents for every dollar earned until annual incomes thresholds of about $34,000 for singles and $48,000 for couples were reached.

"What I'm announcing today is about restoring dignity to Ontarians", she said.

The group predicted the government's pledge to reform social assistance was nothing but a thinly veiled return to cuts brought in by former Tory premier Mike Harris, and vowed to oppose what it called Premier Doug Ford's "war on the poor".

Research from other jurisdictions that have experimented with a basic income does not support the government's position, McKenzie said, adding that the three-year window would have provided ample time to draw meaningful conclusions about the pilot's efficacy.

Participants in the program received an email Wednesday saying their payments would continue through August but got no further details about how the project would be phased out, said Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction. "There are more compassionate ways the government could save money without targeting the most vulnerable".

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