Welfare in Ontario

I completed a recent research project and I realized that there are a lot of people out there with an incorrect understanding of Ontario’s social safety net. Here are some facts about Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), programs (that are about to face $1 billion in further cuts by the Doug Ford government).

Here’s what people (currently) receive:

$656 monthly for a single person
$941 monthly for a single person with one child
$1,173 monthly for a couple with two children

Someone living with disability (ODSP) receives (again, currently):
$1,098 monthly for a single person
$1,515 monthly for a single person with one child
$1,791 monthly for a couple with two children

Canada ranks 24th out of 34 countries in social expenditures as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Interestingly, Canada is dramatically behind Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary (among many other countries). Yet, there are continued moves to further cut these vital safety nets that protect our fellow citizens facing job loss, chronic illness and disability. These cuts harm our economic and social stability, and cause families to suffer.

A recent project was a research study focused on students with disabilities and what I learned made me furious (and extremely sad). But mostly, furious. The cracks in Ontario’s social safety net are extreme (for example, someone on Works gets $350 a month for a housing allowance …in Toronto, and that’s before the cuts).

And with the equally dramatic cuts to OSAP, there’s no way for young and old (like me) to upgrade our skills in a changing economy. Ontario spends significantly less per capita on education than other provinces. This is something we should all be worried about. Ontario was already in a position of dramatic under-investment/funding in post-secondary when compared to other provinces. The previous program around OSAP grants for low-income families was a *tiny* step in the right direction, but still placed Ontario well behind other provinces. This chart (below) was how far behind Ontario was BEFORE the cuts.

Ford has made a terrible situation dramatically worse through incompetence and cruelty, and he’s relying on people’s ignorance of these critical social/educational programs.

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