Ontario government asked to increase social assistance rates

Both Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works rates must be increased: advocacy groups

Ontario government asked to increase social assistance rates

Numerous advocacy groups have called on the Ontario government to increase the current social assistance rates to meet the rising cost of living in the province.

In a letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford, over 230 legal clinics, health organizations, social service providers, and community groups urged the province to raise the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and the Ontario Works (OW) rates in the August 2022 budget. They claimed that these rates are well below the poverty line and have been stagnant since 2018 − with a single person only able to receive up to $1,169 on ODSP or $733 on OW per month.  

While they welcomed the province’s recent move to raise the ODSP rate by five percent, the advocacy groups said that the increase “amounts to just over $58 more per month for recipients” and “offers nothing for people who rely on OW to survive.” Accordingly, they asked the province to address two urgent concerns in the August 2022 budget.

First, the government must similarly raise the OW rate since increasing the ODSP rate alone leaves the 458,000 OW beneficiaries “living in destitution.”

“These are the poorest people on social assistance, the majority of whom are unattached singles and women,” the advocacy groups wrote. “They cannot afford the necessities of life on $733 per month.”

Second, increased ODSP and OW rates must be sufficient to meet the cost of living. As inflation continues to rise, the advocacy groups noted that a five-percent increase is “not nearly enough of a rate increase to survive.”

“The government has saved on social assistance costs during the COVID-19 pandemic due to federal benefits and lowered caseloads, [and] these savings must be reinvested,” the advocacy groups wrote. “We call on this government to double both OW and ODSP rates and index these rates to inflation.”

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