Dear Premier Wynne, Minister Jeffrey, Minister Piruzza, and Minister McMeekin,
We are writing as a coalition of concerned organizations to urge you to respond without delay to the growing crisis in housing and homelessness across Ontario. While there are many housing needs across the province, we need your government to commit – as quickly as possible and before the new year – to make permanent $42 million in "transition funding" for critically important housing and homelessness funds administered by municipalities under the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI).
Municipalities across Ontario are in the midst of planning their budgets for the coming year. Decisions about housing and homelessness funding will be made very soon. Municipalities – and the low income Ontarians who live in them – need your guarantee that you are on their side.
After several years of community advocacy, the Ontario Government finally acknowledged in its 2013 Budget that single adults on social assistance are living in especially severe conditions of hardship and hunger. Once again, the Government adjusted social assistance rates by 1%, the current rate of inflation, but added a $14 top-up for single adults without children on Ontario Works.
Community advocates for a poverty-free Ontario have been campaigning since 2009 for benefit increases that would begin to relieve the tremendous deprivation of single adults living in deep poverty at less than 40% of the official Ontario poverty line. They can finally claim a clear breakthrough with the Government on the plight of single adults, even if the actual rate increases this year are not at the level needed.
Contending that the Government was taking a “balanced approach” to achieving “prosperity” and “fairness,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa actually tips the balance in the direction of continuing austerity.
Hope you will consider sending a letter to your MPP with copies to the Premier and Opposition Leaders via the following link urging anti-poverty action as the 2013 Ontario provincial budget negotiation process unfolds. Please share with your friends and networks.
Inequality is taking a deeper hold in Ontario, despite a promise by our political leaders to address poverty. Please urge our political leaders to keep their word.
Prior to her election as Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and becoming the new Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne declared that she wanted to be known as the “social justice premier”. This statement raised some hopes and expectations among community advocates for low income people for serious action on social assistance reform and the minimum wage. Since assuming leadership of the Government, Premier Wynne has not been very specific about her social justice agenda. The Throne Speech in March included only a few brief references to affordable housing and several recommendations in the recent social assistance reform report by Commissioners Lankin and Sheikh. Besides generally referring to interest in helping social assistance recipients move into employment, the only specific recommendation that the Premier has expressed an interest in acting on is the $200 per month earnings exemption for social assistance recipients with working hours before implementation of the clawback on their earnings.
For Immediate Release:
4:00 PM, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Community leaders and groups across Ontario calling on the new Premier for action on a social justice agenda to improve the living conditions of more than 1.6 million Ontarians living in poverty were offered faint hope in today’s Speech from the Throne. Reference to recommendations for social assistance reform by Commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh did not even make the Summary of Highlights posted at the front end of the speech. http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/home/index.php
Poverty Free Ontario (PFO), a province-wide network of individuals and organizations in 25 communities across Ontario, advocates for a provincial government commitment to end the deep poverty experienced by Ontarians living on social assistance and to end the working poverty of people earning the minimum wage.