Could You Live on $733 a Month?

Listening time approximately 3 minutes

Could You Live on $733 a Month?

An excerpt from the Winter Edition of the CFUW Hamilton “Happenings” report by L. Hall

CFUW – Hamilton has a long tradition of advocating for women and children, and for social justice issues. We can give a voice to those whom the Government sadly and often ignores.

In 2021, the maximum benefit that Ontario Works (OW) pays to cover basic needs and shelter for a single individual on social assistance is $733 per month. The maximum benefit paid for a single individual accessing the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is $1169 monthly. Both of these benefits are woefully inadequate and about $500/month below Canada’s Official Poverty Line.

A single parent with two children under 17 years of age does not do much better. The maximum OW benefit for basic needs and shelter for that family is just $1057/month. Can you imagine trying to feed and house your family of three with that paltry sum? It boggles the mind.

In the early days of the pandemic—the worst public health crisis in genera- tions – 7,000,000 Canadians benefitted from the $2000/month Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB). Individuals who were receiving the Ontario Works benefit had to make do with just $733/month.

Adding insult to injury, Ontario’s Provincial PC government has not announced any increases to these social benefit programs for the coming year. Social assistance rates have been frozen since 2018. This government’s lack of concern for Ontario’s most vulnerable is shocking.

Video of Town Hall Meeting

I hope you will get a chance to check out the video below. I am sure that you will find it both interesting and informative. It is a taping of a Virtual Town Hall – “Still Frozen in Time “– held in Hamilton on October 18th of this year, with the purposes of discussing the current state of Ontario’s broken social assistance system, and exploring ways that it can be fixed. The hosts for the event were Sandy Shaw, MPP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, and Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

You will hear from a doctor, local MPPs, an economist, poverty advocates, researchers, and people who have experienced poverty first hand. I was particularly moved by two speakers, Ingrid Palmer and Tamera Smith. Ingrid was put into community care at a young age. She tells a powerful story about how a cut to social assistance rates in the mid-1990s impacted her and others across Ontario, and she makes the obvious connection that even today, poverty is often mistaken for family neglect. Tamera, who had previously thought, “It will never happen to me,” lost her job and her middle class life as a result of a car accident. Her story reminds all of us that, “There, but for Fortune go you or I.”

This information comes to us from Sally Palmer, Professor Emeritus of the School of Social Work, McMaster University.

CFUW Hamilton Letter Writing Campaign about social assistance rates in Ontario

This campaign focuses on Progressive Conservatives in the Ontario Legislature because they are currently the party in power.

We have included a form letter you can copy and send by email or by post to one or more of our local PC MPPs along with a list of local PC MPPs and their contact information.

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