WINDSOR – The Windsor Star reports that Commissioner Frances Lankin addressed several critical issues about social assistance reform as she and Dr. Munir Sheikh launched their community consultations in Windsor yesterday.
Although indicating that the Commission would have to make recommendations to simplify a rule-bound social assistance system, Commissioner Lankin also pointed out that there is no rationale for how OW and ODSP benefit rates are set. The Windsor Star reports that Commissioner Lankin said, “It’s not rational . . . It’s not related to how much it may cost for shelter, healthy meals, clothing.”
She also challenged the “urban myth” that people can be better off receiving social assistance than working. Citing the rising numbers of working poor people, she expressed concern about the growing numbers of low-paying and part-time jobs.
The Windsor Star reports that Commissioner Lankin “said government cuts to welfare rates over the last two decades were made to encourage people to seek jobs. However, with the job market offering lower paying jobs, and families living below the poverty line, we may now be in a ‘race to the bottom.’ ”
Poverty Free Ontario has offered a structural analysis of the status of poverty in Ontario that points to the same problems with both inadequate benefit levels and a low wage job market. Action on PFO’s policy priorities would end deep poverty by 2015 for people on social assistance and bring general poverty down to 4% or lower within this decade.
Poverty Free Ontario urges the Commissioners to propose a clear strategy for raising benefit levels to enable people on social assistance to live with health and dignity and to address the poor quality labour market by recommending an increase of the minimum wage over a three-year period that will bring the incomes of earners working full-year, full-time above the poverty line.
Poverty Free Ontario plans to post local reports on the Windsor community consultations on Thursday, June 30.