On Thursday March 23, 2006 Ontario Liberal Premiere Dalton McGuinty and Minister of Social Services Sandra Pupatello sent a loud and clear message to the most economically disadvantaged in Ontario.
The Ontario Liberals have no interest in addressing the poverty crisis created by the Harris Tories for those living on social assistance. In fact, in real dollar terms, McGuinty cut their pay.
The new budget brought forward a scrooge-esq 2% increase for those receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) benefits. (1)
However, according to the Government of Ontario's own figures, the inflation rate for Ontario in 2006 is expected to be 2.2%. (2) Meaning, social assistance recipients will likely suffer a 0.2% net decrease in real dollar value.
All the while the Ontario Liberals gloat over the "progress" they are making. (3) Perhaps by "progress" they actually mean progressively making the lives of the most impoverished among us economically unbearable and indeed inhumane.
Despite being a "have" province, Ontario remains one of the stingiest when it comes to looking after those on social assistance. (4) Just before Christmas, the Ontario Liberals severely restricted access to the Special Diet Allowance Program that gave up to an extra $250 per person on assistance. (5)
It is really hard to get a sense of "progress" when a society's most vulnerable are clearly and deliberately left behind.
Dalton McGuinty's message to the poor has been received. It is obvious that neither he nor Sandra Pupatello nor their Liberal government care one bit about the poor.
Help the Under Pressure Collective send a message back to Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberals that the poor DO matter.
It's time to raise the rates. NOW!
Please visit the Under Pressure Collective's website and sign the open letter to these jackals and get involved working in solidarity with people living in poverty as they seek dignity and justice.
(4) Toronto Star: Turn attention to Ontario's poor, http://tinyurl.com/qlcfq (March 18, 2006)
(5) Toronto Star: 'Rogue advocates' for GTA's poor speak out, http://tinyurl.com/dukw6 (November 25, 2005)