September 24, 2016
Bill 6 is a private member’s bill with the goal of establishing social assistance rates that fit with the cost of living in different Ontario communities. People who depend on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program have been losing their buying power since 1995, when the Ontario government cut payments by 21.6 per cent for all recipients.
Since the cut, recipients have been on a downward slide into deep poverty. Despite an annual increase of one per cent to the rates, the inflation of food and accommodation prices far outstrips the increase. This is evident from the annual government-mandated surveys — the Nutritious Food Basket (NFB) reports that compare individual and family incomes to food and accommodation costs in municipalities across Ontario.
The worst example of people being left behind are unattached recipients of Ontario Works: at present they receive only $681 per month, and the NFB report for 2015 shows them to be $121 short per month for nutritious food after rent for an average bachelor apartment. This, despite a 2012 recommendation by the Social Assistance Review Commission for an immediate $100 raise which would have brought them to $700 four years ago.