2010/03/19 | Joe Mihevc, City Councillor, St. Paul’s
While there are some hopeful reports that our economy is in recovery, the thousands of people in this province who have lost their jobs and remain without work have discovered that our social safety net has become threadbare.
A single person living on social assistance in Ontario has just $572 to make it through the month. As the provincial government convenes a review of social assistance as part of its poverty reduction strategy, people in our city continue to go hungry each month. In real terms, someone on social assistance has 40 per cent less money today than they did prior to the devastating cuts in 1995.
To demonstrate what this means for people living in Toronto, The Stop Community Food Centre has created a campaign called “Do the Math,” which includes a website that helps calculate the real cost of living for a single person in Toronto.
Completing the survey, it becomes obvious that social assistance is woefully inadequate. Even the most frugal person cannot hope to live on just $575 a month. After paying rent, there is not enough left for healthy food, let alone clothing, a telephone, or bus tickets.
This inadequacy has driven tens of thousands of Ontarians into a chronic state of crisis, living in precarious housing and relying on food banks and charities to get by.
To help bring attention to this issue, The Stop challenged myself and other prominent Torontonians to “Eat the Math.” On April 6, I will go to The Stop’s Davenport Road community centre and pick up a standard food hamper distributed by the food bank. These emergency hampers are meant to provide a three-day supply of food each month for people in crisis. My challenge will be to live, as most food bank users do, on its contents for an entire week.
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