Poverty group takes concerns to Queen’s Park

Peel Poverty Action Group took its campaign for a better deal for people with disabilities to the floor of the Ontario Legislature. Last week, NDP MPP Michael Prue (Beaches-East York) presented a petition circulated by PPAG, which calls on the Ontario government during a planned review of the Ontario Disability Support System (ODSP) to “develop a system that supports and encourages people with disabilities rather than diminishes, curtails and punishes them.” People who rely on ODSP receive about $1,000 per…

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Welfare reform roadmap

Everyone agrees that Ontario’s welfare system is a mess. In a report released Monday, a panel of experts cites “deep and continuing dissatisfaction” with the status quo in all quarters — government, business, labour, community groups, and welfare recipients. What is lacking is a consensus on how to fix it, which is why the provincial government is planning a major policy review of welfare. The expert panel, chaired by Gail Nyberg of the Daily Bread Food Bank, has given the…

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Ontario Welfare System Needs Overhaul

The Social Assistance Review Advisory Committee has just released its report, stating that Ontario’s welfare system is not working and needs revamping. It states that the system should shift from simply providing financial support to helping people out of poverty. Easier said than done, and there is no consensus on how to achieve this. In my humble opinion, the Ministry of Community and Social Services does not have the resources or the experts needed to properly service the needs of…

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The Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

 On December 4, 2008, the Ontario government released ‘Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy’. The strategy is based on ten core principles. The principles are listed below – this language is taken directly from the Poverty Reduction Strategy (pages 5-6): ‘1. Kids First: Kids are our highest priority. By helping kids living in poverty get what they need to succeed, especially at school, the cycle of poverty can be broken. 2. Kids Live in Families: Families play the most important role in the…

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The Government’s Poverty Reduction Legislation

On May 6, the Ontario legislature unanimously passed Bill 152: The Poverty Reduction Act. This legislation is particularly significant because it acknowledges that poverty is not inevitable and that government can and should create policy to reduce poverty. There are 3 key facets of the legislation. 1. It requires both the current and future governments to set a new poverty reduction target at least every five years, and to create a new Poverty Reduction Strategy after having consulted with low-income Ontarians, specifically including…

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The Government’s Social Assistance Review Commitment

The Ontario government  included the Social Assistance Review in its Poverty Reduction Strategy in Chapter 4: Smarter Government. The commitment reads: ‘We will undertake a review of social assistance with the goal of removing barriers and increasing opportunity – with a particular focus on people trying to move into employment from social assistance. The review will seek to better align social assistance and other key programs and initiatives, better communicate program rules and ensure that programs as a collective work…

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Welfare goes under microscope

Ontario will take a deeper look at a major revamping of its welfare system after a report called for broad changes to help the disadvantaged into jobs, Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur said Monday. The review will take 12 to 18 months, she said, with the NDP noting that means the issues of helping the poor are effectively on hold until after the October 2011 election. “The government is going to spin this for 16 months until the…

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Report: Strong income security measures means a stronger Ontario

Ontario’s Social Assistance Review report, released Monday morning, called for Ontario to create a plan to ensure income security for the province, saying such a plan would help the economic recovery. Over the years, different political parties who hold power in Ontario have said welfare reform was needed, and after hearings and reviews, changes would be implemented. The most devastating changes were made under Mike Harris’s leadership, which saw Ontario’s Social Assistance programs essentially gutted. As a result of Harris’s…

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Ontario welfare system needs overhaul: panel

A government-appointed panel says the Ontario welfare system is not working, and is calling for it to be completely overhauled. The Social Assistance Review Advisory Committee released its report Monday morning at Queen’s Park. It says the emphasis of welfare should be shifted from providing financial assistance to helping people break out of poverty. The panel wants the government to launch a full-scale review of all income-assistance programs. NDP critic Michael Prue is skeptical anything will come of it under…

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Recommendations for an Ontario Income Security Review

REPORT OF THE ONTARIO SOCIAL ASSISTANCE REVIEW ADVISORY COUNCIL May 2010 There is deep and continuing dissatisfaction with the existing approach to social assistance from all quarters: community groups, business, labour, policy makers, the people who run the system and those who receive its benefits. Ontario’s core social assistance programs – Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program – together with the other programs that make up Ontario’s income security system, continue to fall short in providing an economic…

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