Letter to Merrilee Fullerton
Dear Merrilee Fullerton,
We, the members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), are requesting a meeting to discuss the blatant disregard and ongoing neglect of poor and disabled people in Ontario.
It is your responsibility as Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development to immediately address the inadequacy and degradation of peoples relying on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
OCAP has a long history fighting to protect the rights of the poor, and we see that the current “improvements” to these programs do nothing to improve the lives of the poor and disabled. OW and ODSP are woefully inadequate and are at the root of poverty in this province. As the cost of living continues to rise at a rapid pace and the housing crisis persists, more and more people are being forced out of their homes and into encampments, shelters, and other subpar alternatives.
In the government’s latest policy paper, “Recovery and Renewal: Ontario’s Vision for Social Assistance Transformation,” it is evident that there is a thinly-veiled attempt to further coerce and marginalize those struggling the most, while further contributing to the surveillance and disrespect they are already over subjected to.
As you are aware, the current monthly entitlement for a single individual on OW is $733.00 and $1169.00 on ODSP. This includes a shelter allowance of $390.00, leaving a mere $343.00 for basic needs for OW recipients and $672.00 for individuals on ODSP.
Calculations show that the average single individual requires on average $1513.35 in order to meet basic shelter and nutritional costs, leaving OW recipients receiving $733 monthly short of meeting essential needs. For ODSP recipients the shortfall is a minimum of $562.00. This does not include clothing, transportation, phone, internet and other expenses required to meet and maintain everyday needs. Income security for OW and ODSP recipients has plummeted over the last 25 years, and we have had enough!
While your government avoids addressing this crisis – downplaying its severity, overtly privileging the corporations and wealthy elite, our people continue to suffer every single day.
The Canadian government proved its understanding of the minimum amount required to survive economically in 2020, with an Emergency Response Benefit in the amount of $2000 (before taxes). Even at this rate, which is almost three times that of Ontario Works, we saw many working-class families struggle, Yet, people with disabilities are forgotten, pushed to the margins and invisibilized, expected to be silent and complacent in their oppression.
We have inherent value despite our social position. We deserve better. We will not be left behind. We will continue the fight for higher benefits, accessibility, and respect for our right to survival.
We call on you to lend yourself to real solutions, and we demand you act immediately. If we do not receive a timely response, we will consider public action.
With all due respect,
The members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty