Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

October 13, 2012 13:30 ET

Community rallies to "raise the rates" and stop social assistance cuts

McGuinty government making poverty worse with planned cut to "Community Start Up"

HAMILTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 13, 2012) - With an all-party commission set to report on social assistance in Ontario, the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits organized a march and rally in Hamilton today to call on the Ontario Liberal government to not make poverty worse in Ontario with plans to cut funds that help people move into better housing.

"Cancelling the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit is bad thinking," said Elizabeth McGuire of the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits. "The Start-Up Benefit is supposed to help those who were evicted from their home to help with moving costs and first and last month's rent. Without the Start Up Benefit, there will be an increase in homelessness."

"The Liberal government is facing a groundswell of opposition to their plans to cut these benefits," said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee. "If you believe recent media reports, the Liberals are considering a new, long-term plan for social assistance. But people living in poverty need higher rates and other support today, not years down the road."

Social workers, local anti-poverty groups and labour unions from the public and private sectors agree that the Liberals need to stop making poverty worse in Ontario.

"It is unconscionable that Ontario's dangerously low social assistance rates are causing hunger, ill-health, and despair every day in Hamilton," said Lisa Richterer of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario. "Registered nurses urge the provincial government to increase the social assistance rates so they reflect the actual cost of living and restore the Community Start-up and Maintenance Benefit."

About 16,000 people access the benefit every month in Ontario. It is one of the only ways that people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program can cover the costs of moving or obtain the basic items they need to maintain a home. It is a defence against homelessness and gives many women the resources they need to be able to leave situations of domestic violence.

The Liberal government's 2012 budget brought a number of regressive cuts to social assistance, including the Community Start Up, slated for elimination in 2013. The march and rally are part of a provincial movement to stop the cut.

Sponsors include: CUPE Ontario, Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, Ontario Association of Social Workers, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, United Steelworkers Local 1005, Ontario School Teachers Federation, Hamilton Organizing for Poverty Elimination and the Hamilton & District Labour Council. BBQ and refreshments provided!

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