In the Liberals’ recent budget, the poorest in Ontario got exactly what they’ve come to expect from politicians. They weren’t just ignored, they were attacked. This time it was through the eradication of the Special Diet Allowance, a lifeline to food for thousands of people living on social assistance in this province. Hiding behind an auditor general’s report that highlighted fraud in the system, the Liberals nimbly sidestepped the real fraud perpetrated each and every month: unethical and staggeringly low social assistance rates, which rob the most vulnerable people in our society of their health and dignity.
No one wants to be poor. No one wants to battle cockroaches in a damp basement apartment or send their kids to school hungry. This may sound self-evident, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of this lest we go back to darker political times when poverty was seen as a character flaw or a lifestyle choice.
It’s mantras like this, of course, that Mike Harris and his government dined out on during their tenure. They demonized the poor, stripping away our hard-won social safety net, cutting, among other things, social assistance rates by 22 per cent.
The McGuinty Liberals said they’d take a different tack on the poverty file. They told us they understood that poverty is more often than not connected to a disability, lack of affordable housing or a pension that doesn’t cover the bills. The language was good. Many of us working with the most vulnerable in our province felt hopeful that change was coming.
To read more, CLICK HERE!