isarc's image: The Ontario Government's 2013 Budget

isarc’s image: The Ontario Government’s 2013 Budget

On May 2, 2013 the Ontario government of Canada released the proposed 2013 budget to be debated at Queen’s Park over the next couple of weeks.

The provincial government has reported that the Ontario Child Benefit provides financial support that has helped lift 40,000 children out of poverty.

According to the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC):

  • The majority of Ontario children receiving social assistance benefits (67%) are in lone-mother led families
  • The provincial child poverty rate is 12.6%, or 345,000 children (using 2005 Statistics Canada data on tax income)
    • That is, one of every eight children in Ontario is living in poverty

    • The rate declined slightly from 2004 to 2005, but has been on an upward trend since 2001

    • Ontario’s child poverty rate is the fourth highest in Canada – 44% of all low-income children in Canada live in Ontario

  • Poverty rates for children in Aboriginal, racialized, new immigrant and lone mother-led families are at least double the provincial rate
  • In 2007, a single mother with one young child on social assistance had a family income that was at least $5,357 below the poverty line
  • Full-time, full-year work at Ontario’s new minimum wage of $10.25 an hour generates earnings that are approximately $3,000 below the poverty line
  • 70% of all low-income children in Ontario live in families where at least one parent is working part-time or full-time, yet the families are unable to earn enough to lift family income above the poverty line
  • Parents who are unable to be in the workforce and rely on social assistance struggle on welfare benefits that are as low now as they were in 1967
  • Average CEO salary has grown from 25 times the average Canadian income in 1980 to 250 times the average income in 2011
  • In 2009, Ontario spent $64 per person on affordable housing compared to the average among all provinces of $115 per person

Premier Kathleen Wynne highlighted the 2013 Budget’s proposed increases to the Ontario Child Benefit, which helps about one million low- to moderate-income children across the province in the following manner:

  • The Ontario government is proposing to increase the Ontario Child Benefit’s annual maximum payment by up to $210 over the next two years
    • This would raise the maximum payment from $1,100 to $1,310 per year for each child, helping parents with their family expenses

    • The Ontario Child Benefit helps low-income parents provide for their children, whether they are working or not

  • In order for parents to receive this year’s proposed increase of $110 this July, the Budget 2013 bill would have to be passed and proclaimed before July 1, 2013
    • The benefit would also increase by another $100 per year as of July 1, 2014

  • Parents don’t need to apply for the Ontario Child Benefit
    • To be eligible they must file their income taxes, register for the Canada Child Tax Benefit, have a child under age 18, and live in Ontario

The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC)‘s response to Ontario government’s 2013 budget is given in the following press release:

PRESS RELEASE

i.s.a.r.c.
FAITH COMMUNITIES IN
ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

May 8, 2013

Ontario’s 2013 Budget moves us forward

The Ontario government’s 2013 budget marks modest steps toward poverty reduction. For the past three years, ISARC along with other anti-poverty activists have been advocating for stronger moral and ethical values to be reflected in the policy decisions that affect people living on low-incomes.

The current budget moves slowly in that direction, while much more remains to be done.

The budget focuses on the measures to stimulate the economy and to create employment opportunities in a precarious global economy with “fairness” and “prosperity”. This includes modest changes to the current earning exemption policy, allowing social assistance recipients to keep more of their earnings each month before their benefits are reduced; increases the Ontario Works Asset Limits and simplifies Asset Rules.

The Government finally acknowledged the severe conditions of hardship in which single adults on social assistance are living but provides only a 1% increase in the rates. Although ISARC and other poverty advocates have consistently requested a $100 top-up to the basic rate, the Ontario budget only adds a meager $14 top-up for single adults without children on Ontario Works.

The budget is disappointing in other ways. The government refuses to honour a previous commitment to raise the Ontario Child Benefit to $1,310 per child by July 2013. Instead they raise the benefit by $100 this year and to the $1,310 level in 2014. The working poor are also left behind. Ontario has frozen its minimum wage at $10.25 since 2010. To our great disappointment, the budget does not include an increase to the minimum wage. Instead, it calls for a review of this issue by an Advisory Panel. Most crucially, despite a critical shortage of affordable housing in Ontario, with 156,000 households on waiting lists for affordable housing, the budget offers no funds nor plans for new affordable housing, except for First Nations communities. This is especially a missed opportunity as any federal budget to include provincial transfers for affordable housing programs would be easier to secure if funds have already been committed in a provincial budget.

Despite the general tone and concessions toward a “fair” and “prosperous” budget, the Ontario government has a long way to go toward reflecting these values in our society, and most importantly, in the lives of Ontario citizens impacted by the hardship of low incomes. We urge the Members of Ontario’s Provincial Parliament, of all parties, to continue to advance the priorities of a socially just and equitable society and in particular to push for a renewed Poverty Reduction Strategy for our province.

Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition
3250 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario M8X 2Y4
www.isarc.ca   info@isarc.ca   647-210-2622

Additional Resources

Government of Ontario Publications
Full Report – 2013 Budget “A Prosperous and Fair Ontario”

Backgrounder – “Ontario’s Economic Outlook and Fiscal Plan”
Backgrounder – “A Fair Society”
Backgrounder – “The Ontario Trillium Benefit: More Choice for People”
Backgrounder – “Youth Job Creation”

Other Press Releases & Backgrounders

Poverty Free Ontario – Bulletin #12 – “PFO on the 2013 Ontario Budget
Ontario Campaign 2000 – “Strong Steps Forward but Still Missing the Target
ISAC – “Budget 2013 Analysis: Moving Forward on Social Assistance Reform”
25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction – “Budget Makes Progress Towards Poverty Reduction

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