Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

December 28, 2012 15:04 ET

Liberals bow-partly-to pressure from anti-poverty groups

Fighting social assistance cuts benefits brings temporary reprieve for people living in poverty

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 28, 2012) - The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) welcomed the news yesterday that the Ontario Liberal government has altered course slightly by announcing it would provide extra one-time funding in 2013 for homelessness prevention programs, but they noted the government still plans to cut social assistance.

A province-wide Week of Action in mid-December saw over 15 communities holding a range of actions pressuring Liberal MPPs to change course. Yesterday's announcement shows that fighting back works, said Liisa Schofield of OCAP.

"This decision shows that people living in poverty can fight back and win, even if the victory is a partial reprieve," Schofield said. "But in this age of so-called austerity, which hides the reality of massive inequality, winning a concession from government should inspire more resistance and more determination to fight. People across Ontario must have equal and adequate access to benefits that are fully funded year over year. We will bring that message to the Liberal convention in Toronto in January."

The Liberals' announcement of one-time funding is welcome news, but it is a temporary reprieve, said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee.

"The funding decision is testament to all of the work community groups have done around the province to pressure the Liberal government to stop the cut to the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit," Poole-Cotnam said. "But cutting the CSUMB is still part of the government's plan. Worse, Ontarians will still lose a uniform program and be at the mercy of municipal discretion and uneven funding across the province. We will continue to campaign against any policies that make poverty worse in Ontario."

The CSUMB is one of the only ways that people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program can cover the costs of moving, save their housing and obtain the basic items they need to maintain a home. It is a defence against homelessness and a means by which many women are able to leave situations of domestic violence. The Liberal government's 2012 budget brought a number of regressive cuts to social assistance, including the CSUMB, still slated for elimination in 2013.

Contact Information

  • Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
    Liisa Schofield
    416 899 6445

    CUPE Ontario
    Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam
    Chair, Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee
    613 864 1061

    CUPE Ontario Communications
    David Robbins
    613 878 1431