LISA RAINFORD Apr 15, 2010 – 10:37 AM
MPPs say Ontario Works dollars fall short
One-thousand-three-hundred-fourteen dollars a month is the amount of money MPPs determined a single person needed to pay for the basic necessities of life, including housing and food; however, an Ontario Works (OW) recipient falls $729 short of that tally while those receiving an Ontario Disability Pension (ODSP) would be $772 short.
Forty MPPs from all three parties completed the Do the Math survey, a budgetary exercise that can be found on the Stop Community Food Centre’s website, that asks participants to answer the question: ‘Does a single person on social assistance receive enough income to live in health and with dignity?’
At $1,314, the MPPs’ total was just $236 shy of the average total of the 5,000 other survey participants, clearly indicating that after paying for housing, clothing and transportation, most people on social assistance have nothing left for food and are forced to rely on food banks and drop-in meals to survive.
Do the Math teams, comprised of community leaders, OW and ODSP recipients, visited 40 MPPs throughout Ontario calling for an immediate monthly increase of $100 for every adult receiving social assistance in the province. This initiative is being promoted by the Put Food in the Budget campaign. A report, summarizing the MPPs’ responses, was released Wednesday, April 14, during a meeting that brought together anti-poverty activists from across the province to College United Church at Bathurst and College streets.
The consensus, said Peter Clutterbuck of the Social Planning Network of Ontario, is that the majority of MPPs visited agreed the current social assistance rates are not enough to meet the basic necessities of life.
Nadia Edwards of The Stop along with a group of delegates met with Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur.
“She said there’s no money to give to this, but we all know this is not the case,” said Edwards. “Don’t say you know what we’re going through, you don’t know what it’s like. You’ve never raised your kids in poverty, you don’t know what it’s like to live in poverty.”
Meilleur refused to do the math, said Edwards, because she knew what the answer would be.
“I was disappointed in her. She was refusing to hear us. This is unacceptable. We need to take action,” said Edwards.