Friday , August 12 2022

Ontario's social assistance reforms look like "window dressing," says anti-poverty activist



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As the finer details of the Ford government's updates to Ontario's social services program are still being analyzed, some social welfare recipients and advocates respond to the changes with skepticism.

"I have not heard anything from the government about adequacy … It sounds like a good windowshift at this time," said Diane Dyson, a public policy activist based in Toronto.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Government has said that the changes will not be immediate, instead, roll out the next two years. Among these tweaks – allows recipients who are employed to retain more of their profits. There will also be a changing definition of who qualifies for disability.

"[The current program] left people dependent on the government and caught in a poverty cycle, said Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, on Thursday when she revealed the government's proposal.

Diane Dyson, political activist, calls the latest changes in social security programs "Good Window Relationship" by the provincial government. (CBC News Network)

But Dyson is far from convinced that the computers have found the answer to help alleviate poverty, referring to lack of details in the first message.

"A paler version"

"The Conservative Government has come up with a paler version of what [the Liberals] did, "said Dyson.

"We hoped to see hikes that would begin to deal with adequacy, but people will still fall far behind."

According to the new plan, MacLeod said that recipients of the Ontario Works Social Assistance Fund will earn up to $ 300; a bump up from the current exemption of $ 200.

The former liberal government had promised to raise the monthly threshold to $ 400.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's Child, Social and Social Officer announced Thursday changes in the province's social services system. (Chris Young / Canadian Press)

According to Trish Huculak, a recipient of social assistance living in Scarborough, the spreadsheets from Ontario PCs will not make a real difference to paychecks.

"People will go," right on "it [the provincial government] have added an extra $ 100. But when we do the math, it will not end, she said.

Huculak supports her daughter on a single income, working with Work for Change, a charity organization and United Way. She says that $ 100 will not make a noticeable difference considering different living expenses like renting.

"[Recipients] will end up with what they had before. It will not help them, it will keep them poor. "

New definition of "disability" help

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) also addresses issues with the proposed changes, especially regarding changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and which can claim its benefits.

MacLeod said there will be an income exemption for recipients of the program up to $ 6000 per year.

The province will change its definition of who can apply for disability assistance to adapt to a federal definition.

"They have made social assistance even more restrictive with the changes and reforms they have announced," said Yogi Acharaya, a representative of OCAP.

Yogi Acharya with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty believes that changes in the definition of who receive disability aid are becoming too restrictive. (CBC News)

Acharaya said despite the promises of the province to "grandfather" all recipients who have already qualified for disabilities, OCAP believes that many will be released.

"Probably [the Ontario PCs] refers to the definition of CPP disability or perhaps a definition used for invalidity tax credits – both of which are more restrictive than the Ontario definition of disability, said Acharaya.

MacLeod did not show if there would be more or less recipients of disability assistance according to the new guidelines.

Toriesna also said that they lowered a planned three percent increase in social assistance to 1.5 percent.

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