TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 2, 2013) - The Liberal 2013 budget insults hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty in Ontario by continuing $8.5 billion in annual tax cuts for corporations, while providing miniscule social assistance rate "increases" that are wiped out by inflation and rent increases, anti-poverty activists with the Raise the Rates campaign said today.
"Premier Kathleen Wynne has blown her opportunity to end the Harris-McGuinty era of making poverty worse in Ontario," said Liisa Schofield of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). "She's giving $8.5 billion in tax cuts to corporations every year while leaving poor people to tread water. The government must raise social assistance rates by 55% just to recover the lost ground of the past 18 years - an increase of 1 percent is an insult."
Schofield reacted to the budget's announcement that the Liberals are creating a new cabinet committee on poverty reduction.
"The caution the Liberals exhibit when "studying" poverty is in marked contrast when it comes to the bold and direct action they take cutting taxes for corporations," Schofield said. "No more committees. No more commissions. It's time to commit action to end poverty by raising the minimum wage and raising social assistance rates."
The government's rate increase of $14 for single employable people and the $200 earnings exemption are insufficient to meet adequacy and simple human dignity, said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee.
"These measures are band-aids which don't address the massive drop in income that people living on social assistance have had to endure," said Poole-Cotnam. "And now the government wants to eliminate programs that provide specialized supports for persons with disabilities, making poverty even worse for Ontario's most vulnerable people."
While Poole-Cotnam said that the proposed flat rate exemption on employment earnings is a positive step, she called on the government to maintain the existing 50 percent exemption for earnings above $200.00 and to restore the other major benefits it has cut.
"The Raise the Rates campaign will continue to press the Liberals to restore the Community Start Up and the Special Diet Allowance," Poole-Cotnam said. "We will not stand idle as the Liberal government balances its budget on the backs of Ontario's poor while giving away billions to big business."