October 12, 2009
Published On Mon Oct 12 2009
This is a day to be thankful for, and to enjoy, what we have. Undoubtedly, though, as they sit down to turkey dinner, many Ontarians will also turn their thoughts to those who will make dinner with whatever they find in the foodbank box.
The economic downturn has made poverty a reality for an increasing number of Ontarians. More join their ranks daily.
Indeed, more than 42,000 people – equivalent to the population of Timmins – have been added to the province’s welfare rolls since March. That’s when Premier Dalton McGuinty acknowledged that our welfare system, which provides an income far below the poverty line, was rife with punitive rules that “stomp” people into the ground.
Where, then, is the government’s promised social assistance review?
The community and social services ministry is still “finalizing the framework.” Four months ago, it was “determining (the) scope.”
McGuinty’s government has boldly committed itself to tackling child and family poverty and deserves credit for releasing a long-term poverty reduction plan last December. But it is disappointing to see that the government seems to have lost a sense of urgency.
Welfare is supposed to be the safety net that catches people and helps set them back on their feet. Our system, though, is full of holes.
Asset-stripping rules force people to get down to their last few hundred dollars. Then, they are given so little to live on: a single person gets just $572 a month. Just surviving is a daily challenge.
A solid income support system that allows people to live with some dignity and helps them get back on their feet is needed more than ever during an economic downturn.
By donating their time and money, Ontarians already do a great deal to help those less fortunate. But as Nick Saul and Janet Gasparini write on the opposite page, “We all know that without government action, our efforts are simply not enough.”