GUELPH, ON — Green Party of Ontario leader and MPP for Guelph, Mike Schreiner, is echoing the call from 130 community organizations for the Ford government to immediately increase social assistance rates for vulnerable Ontarians.
“It is wrong that the most vulnerable in society are receiving less support at a time like this. I am asking the Social Services Minister to match the federal emergency benefit for low-income Ontarians,” said Schreiner.
Schreiner is calling on the government to:
- Immediately raise the social assistance and disability benefits to $1,800 per month, consistent with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) after taxes; and
- Exempt the CERB from provincial clawbacks so that low-income Ontarians and people with disabilities can benefit fully from federal emergency relief.
Ontarians on social assistance receive $733 per month, or $1169 if they have a disability.
Yet many do not qualify for federal COVID-19 help because they have not lost $5000 in income, and if they do, a portion is clawed back by the province.
While provinces like BC have boosted social assistance rates by $300 per month, Ontario is only offering an additional $50 to $100, but people must contact their caseworker to apply.
“Physical distancing has already reduced access to community programs and additional income opportunities that people depend on. Now is not the time to force them to jump through hoops for a $50 cheque that won’t even cover a week of groceries. We must do more,” said Schreiner.
Schreiner continues to call for direct financial relief so that renters, students, and people out of work can keep food on the table and a roof over their head.
“A universal basic income is the simplest way to get money into people’s pockets. Let’s give direct payments so that no one falls through the cracks,” said Schreiner.