Canadian Social Assistance Review: Ontario Commissioners Want Your Feedback By March 16, 2012

Canadian Social Assistance Review: Ontario Commissioners Want Your Feedback By March 16, 2012

This is an update to my previous blogs:

” The Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario is tasked with carrying out a comprehensive review, and in June 2012 providing the government with specific recommendations and a concrete action plan for reforming the social assistance system.

In February 2012 the Commission released Discussion Paper 2: Approaches for Reform, which discusses different approaches to improving some of the key areas of the social assistance system. Through this paper, the Commission is seeking further input and advice from stakeholders and communities by March 16 to help frame recommendations to the government.

The following letter from both Yvonne Kelly (Chair of the Do the Math Committee of York Region and Co-Author of the York  Region Social Audit Report – “Behind the Masks – testimonials from those marginalized by income) and Pat Taylor (Co-Chair of the Social Planning Council of York Region and Member of the Ontario Social Planning Network):

  • gives an update on the Community Consultation & Discussion (held on March 7, 2012) in York Region (YR) for the Social Assistance Review Commission’s Paper 2 (second input paper)
  • and urges Canadians to submit your own feedback to the Commission in various ways, according to the instructions below

March 11, 2012

Hello Everyone.

….We held the Community Consultation for the Social ASsistance Review Commission’s Second Input paper, hosted by the Human Services Planning Board of YR, this past Wednesday evening at St Theresa high school in Richmond Hill.  Approximately 60 people were in attendance, all participating in focus group discussions to provide immediate feedback on the work the Commission has done to date as reflected in their Second Input Paper released just last month in February. For those who preferred to also provide their own individual written submission that night, forms were provided to do just that. They left them with Pat Taylor and myself to combine with other individual submissions and return to the Commissioners by Friday March 16th.

So it’s NOT TOO LATE to complete and submit your own feedback to the Commission and that’s why we’re attaching the form. Please complete it, ask others to do the same, save them and email them back in an attachment to myself yvonnek@yrfn.ca  The plan is that we’ll collect as many individual and organizational submissions as possible in a package from York Region that will be sent to the Commissioners on March 16th. On the night of the consultation we also had a video corner and captured some live responses and feedback from people in attendance. The video segments along with the written submissions will be combined and sent to the commission by the York Region Do the Math Working Group and the York Region Social Planning Council on behalf of the community.

If you have any questions you can reach me or leave a message on my cell phone 416-697-4208.  While we prefer you email us the responses, Pat Taylor has offered to pick up any handwritten responses next week, if you need to complete it that way. You can call me to arrange that and Pat will then call you back to arrange a time.

Thanks to everyone who attended on Wednesday night – we believe that the meeting itself made a real impact on Leah Meyers, the Executive Lead Staff person with the commission who was in attendance.  Following up the consultation by sending further individual and organizational submissions will only make our YR case for an improved social assistance system, even stronger.

Take care everyone.

Yvonne Kelly and Pat Taylor

Here are some highlights of the presentation “A Community Response to the Social Assistance Review Commission” on March 7, 2012 – by Yvonne Kelly and Pat Taylor:

  • There is indeed Poverty in York Region..  contrary to popular belief.
  • The Making Ends Meet Document confirms that.
  • As do the experiences of people who spoke at the Social Audit two years ago, those that are involved in the delivery of social and community based services and the increasing numbers of people using our food banks and meal programs on a daily basis across the Region.
  • No one is safe from Poverty and as Tom Pearson of PACC (Poverty Action for Change Coalition) portrays in his video that recently won top honours across Canada with the Canadian Labour Congress, more and more of us are merely “one Paycheque away from poverty.”
  • And one step away from relying on some form of outside assistance.
  • Do the Math Working Group – Advocating for the $100 Healthy Food Supplement for Individuals in deep poverty on OW (Ontario Works) and ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program):
    • Better known provincially as the PUT FOOD IN THE BUDGET  CAMPAIGN active in over 20 communities across Ontario.
    • 6 out of 7 MPPs in YR completed the Do the Math Budget Survey and recommended that current social assistance rates for an individual recipient were on average $800/month below what it costs to live  here.
    • 13 Individuals in York Region participated in the Do the Math Challenge in October 2010 creating more public awareness of the costs of poverty, in particular to people’s health and the public purse.
    • York Region Council endorsed the immediate implementation of the $100 Healthy Food Supplement as a first step in addressing poverty among Social Assistance recipients – those living in deep poverty.
  • Social Assistance Incomes Remain Unacceptably Low in Ontario since the 22% cuts in 1995:
    • Poverty line for one adult is $18,582/yr (LIM-AT)
      Single adult on OW gets $7,352/yr (39.6% LIM-AT)
      Basic income gap is – $11,230/yr
    • Poverty line for a lone parent with one child is $26,279/yr (LIM-AT)
      Lone parent on OW with a young child gets $16,683/yr (63.5% LIM-AT)
      Basic income gap is – $9,596/yr
  • Living in deep poverty on social assistance (below 80% of LIM-AT) means that tens of thousands adults and children across Ontario experience chronic cycles of hunger and hardship each month when money runs out to meet basic necessities.
    • As those who work with our children in schools will tell you, these are not conditions under which students can learn or thrive.
    • And those working in employment and social services will tell you, these are not conditions that support anyone’s ability to secure or maintain employment, quite the opposite.
  • York Region Council also endorsed the $100 Healthy Food Supplement as a first step in addressing the urgency of hunger resulting from poverty in our communities and relayed their endorsement to the Premier and appropriate Ministers at that time, as well as OMSSA.
  • To date, 16 Municipal Governments across Ontario have passed a similar resolution or endorsement of the $100 Healthy Food Supplement as an immediate first step to increasing social assistance rates in Ontario to match the true costs of living.
  • It is our Hope and Our Challenge to  the Commissioners and to everyone who participates in this Social Assistance Review:
    • To become inspired, to think compassionately, to respond collectively and to act decisively in order to create the necessary conditions that can significantly improve individual lives and reduce poverty across Ontario communities.

Written Submission to the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario

  • Written submissions dropped off at the registration desk March 7, 2012:
    • will be submitted to the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario by The Social Planning Council of York Region and the Do the Math Working Group of York Region.
  • After March 7th,

    • you can still complete this submission form below on-line, save the document and email it back to Yvonne Kelly at yvonnek@yrfn.ca    
    • We require these to be sent to us on or by Thursday March 15th with the deadline for submission being Friday March 16th.
    • We are collecting the hard copies of the submissions and sending it as a collection of submissions from York Region.
    • We will send them both  electronically and mail a package.
  •  If you decided to submit your comments directly on-line to the Social Assistance Review Team:

    • Please also send us a copy so that we can include it in the joint submissions.
    • Please use as much space as required – you are not limited to the lined portion below and if you want you can continue typing beyond the lined section, save the document and then return to us attached in an email.
  • Submissions can also be faxed 416-212-0413 or mailed to:
    Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario
    2 Bloor Street West
    4th Floor, Suite 400
    Toronto, ON M4W 3E2

The Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario has posted a selection of submissions on its website to help facilitate dialogue on social assistance issues.

Please note that by sending the Commission your submission, you are giving the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario permission to post it on the website and/or cite it in Commission publications.

  • If your submission is personal in nature and/or you are not comfortable having your name published in the Commission’s website, please indicate that in your submission.

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