[url=http://ocap.ca/node/1231]The Fight for the Special Diet Made a Difference that Hasn't Been Wiped Out![/url]
In 2005, OCAP took up the fight to access the Special Diet for People on Ontario Works and ODSP. Our hunger clinics and actions to demand access to the benefit spread and huge numbers of people in poverty won additional income to protect their health and feed themselves and their families.
Despite all the efforts to limit the Special Diet, which have caused a great deal of hardship to many in Ontario, we suspected that access to the benefit had not been driven back to the point it was at in 2004. Now, figures we have obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, more than confirm this.
In 2004, average monthly Special Diet cases in Ontario numbered 44,774 with expenditure on the benefit for that year running at $57.6 million. The following year, as the OCAP initiated campaign got underway, monthly SD caseload rose to 75,628 and the expenditure went up to $128.5 milliion. The Liberal Government's efforts to crush these gains continued but, by 2010, monthly SD cases had risen to 140,733 and expenditure to $209.9 million. With all the brutal measures to restrict access that took effect in recent years, we might have assumed these gains would have been rolled back but the last complete year we have figures for, 2013, shows monthly cases at 148,258 and expenditure at $257.3 million. Only partial figures have been obtained for 2014 but average monthly cases comes in at 155,269.
Liberal austerity has made people poorer but the fight for the Special Diet placed limits on their war on the poor and still does to this day. All those who joined in the protests and occupations that won the benefit and all who helped to run clinics to get the forms filled in should know that everything they did was worth it. The medical allies (especially Dr Roland Wong) who fought for the rights of their low income patients did so much. Above all, the tens of thousands of people in poverty who would not be quiet till they got their Special Diet should be proud. Let's take that knowledge, move forward and fight for the right to decent income for everyone.