Raise the Rates! April 1, Toronto

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Raise the Rates! April 1, Toronto

2011 Provincial Budget Poverty Breakdown

Liberals to face the anger of poor communities this Friday, April 1st.

Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, is set to speak at the Economic Club of
Canada on Friday, right across the street from OCAP’s Raise the Rates
Rally and March to Raise OW/ODSP Rates, Restore the Special Diet:
Friday, April 1, Noon at Toronto City Hall
This year’s Ontario Liberal budget, unveiled on Tuesday, March 29th,
reveals nothing but a continuation of Liberal policies on poverty –
deepening the crisis of income inadequacy for 840 000 people on social
assistance (OW and ODSP).

In last year’s budget, the Liberals announced a cut to the Special Diet
Allowance. Since that time, they have instead overhauled the program, and
as of April 1st will be bringing in a ‘new’ program that’s key change is
to greatly limit access to the vital benefit through the medical release
of information and other intrusive measures. The City of Toronto, under
Rob Ford, is anticipating ‘saving’ $10million dollars in 2011 alone in
what was previously spent on Special Diet claims. All those no longer
eligible will be cut off by July 31, 2011.

In this years budget the Liberals announced a 1% raise to social
assistance, and boasted at length about their upcoming ‘review’ of the
system. What most people fail to realize, is that 1% does not even account
for inflation (it will mean about an extra $6/month), let alone come
anywhere near addressing the 55% that is needed to bring rates back to
pre-Harris levels. A 1% ‘raise’, and the gutting of access to the Special
Diet, comes at a time when the newest figures show an increase of food
bank reliance up by 28% since the 2008 economic crisis. As well, food
prices have risen a staggering 30% since 2000.

Not surprisingly, McGuinty and his cronies are using their usual ‘poverty
reduction’ language in building up the 18month long social assistance
review as a clear distraction from the real issues at hand. There should
be no question - the Liberal government is no friend or ally to the poor
in this province. They have gutted the special diet, they have failed to
reverse the Harris cuts and raise social assistance rates. The reality is
that people are worse off today than they were in 1994. This is a matter
of life and death; people are hungry, people are getting sick, people are
being forced in to homelessness. We do not need another Provincial Review
to tell us we are hungry. We demand: Raise OW/ODSP rates NOW to where
people can live with health and dignity!

On top of this, the 2011 Provincial budget includes a continued attack on
Public Sector workers and the beginning of a ‘public sector review’ headed
up by TD banker, Don Drummond – a man who’s clear objective will be moves
towards privatization. At the same time, the Liberals re-affirmed their
multi billion dollar tax break for corporations. A transfer of wealth from
poor and working class communities to the hands of rich corporations.  As
is happening around the world, cuts are being made to the public sector as
part of broader austerity measures.

OCAP has called a Rally for this coming Friday, April 1st to challenge the
extreme poverty of people living on social assistance in Ontario.  It was
set on April 1 so as to mark the day when the McGuinty Government will
bring in the new, greatly reduced, Special Diet.  It is a day on which the
Liberals in Ontario impose a huge cut on tens of thousands of the poorest
people in the Province.

We have now discovered that, shortly after our Rally assembles, Liberal
Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, will be speaking to the Economic Club of
Canada, right across the street at the Sheraton Hotel.  He will be
speaking to the issue of the Provincial Budget and ‘financial priorities’
of this province.  His intended audience will not include people living in
poverty, however.  A premium positioned table for ten at the event goes
for over $1,000 and a single seat costs $90.  On the very same day as he
gives some self satisfied platitudes to a bunch of bankers, his Government
is taking a measure that will make people homeless, rob them of adequate
nutrition, compromise their health and shorten their lives.

Please come out and help us give Duncan and the Liberal McGuinty
Government a fitting response to their budget and their poverty policies. 
Please come down to City Hall on Friday, put the word out far and wide and
make sure we turn out a large and angry mobilization of poor people and
their allies.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
www.ocap.ca / 416-925-6939

Freedom 55