Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

April 12, 2013 17:06 ET

Liberals pressed to raise social assistance rates in 2013 budget

Raise the rates by 55% to recover from Harris-McGuinty cuts

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 12, 2013) - Anti-poverty activists visited the office of Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa today to bring him and Premier Kathleen Wynne a message: raise social assistance rates by 55 percent in the 2013 budget.

"Today we're handing Charles Sousa a bill for real social justice in Ontario," says Liisa Schofield of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). "It's time the Liberal government took social justice seriously and accounted for the amount past due to those who have been unjustly denied."

Raising social assistance rates by 55 percent would help people recover from 18 years of declining income from the Harris-McGuinty cuts, said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, the chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee.

"The Raise the Rates campaign has some practical advice for Premier Wynne if she's serious about increasing social justice in Ontario," Poole-Cotnam said. "Raise the minimum wage, restore previous cuts her government made to the Community Start-up benefit and the Special Diet Allowance - and don't even think of making extreme changes to the delivery of social assistance programs."

Ontario's minimum wage has been frozen for three years and needs to be raised to $14/hr, and indexed to inflation, for working people to have a better chance of taking care of their families, Poole-Cotnam said.

Activists also called on the Wynne government to drop plans to make extreme changes to social assistance programs like merging the Ontario Disability Support Program with Ontario Works.

"The British government recently made poverty worse in their country with similar so-called reforms," said OCAP's Schofield. "We are gravely concerned that the Liberals will copy the bad British example and put thousands of lives at risk by tightening disability requirements and forcing people into sub-poverty wages and precarious jobs. That would be a poor legacy for a Premier who claims the mantle of social justice."

Contact Information

  • OCAP
    Liisa Schofield

    CUPE Ontario
    Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam

    CUPE Ontario Communications
    David Robbins
    613 878 1431