Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Doing the Math

While the Pan Am Games numbers didn’t compute for this blogger another “math’ exercise I participated in did add up.

Well, not really.

On November 18th a mixed group of 14 Burlington residents and service providers did some math at a breakfast meeting held at Community Development Halton.
Toronto’s The Stop Community Food Centre and the Campaign to Put Food in the Budget created this web based budget tool to promote understanding of poverty issues. Do the Math poses a simple question:

Does a single person on social assistance receive enough income to live with health and dignity?

A survey allows you to determine what you would need to make ends meet and to compare your results to what a single person on social assistance receives each month.

How often does one need a haircut? Dental care might not be a priority. But can you find a job with bad teeth? Do I really need that large double, double at $1.72?

These are but a few of the questions/issues the group considered.

When they added it was determined that it would cost $1,742 a month for a single person to get by with a bachelor apartment in Burlington.

Compare that to the maximum amount of:

*$572 per month a single Ontario Works recipient gets.
*1,020 a single individual on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) would receive.

Or consider the fact that a full- time minimum wage earner would have only $1429 in before tax income.

One participant noted that the gap was “astronomical.” Another questioned the sense of social assistance policies if the rates established clearly aren’t doing any good.
Over 3,000 people around the province have signed the online petition or a postcard that calls for government to ‘do the math’ too, and overhaul the system that sets rates, as well as for an immediate increase of $100 as a first step to meet basic needs. About half of provincial Members of Parliament have been involved in this project to date.

At long last the provincial government is beginning a promised review of social assistance. Hopefully, changes are on the way.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Unfortunately, there are many people in Ontario who have no idea how inadequate our social assistance rates really are. For example, the front page of this morning's Globe and Mail had a story on the Ontario Auditor's criticism of some physicians signing forms so that social assistance claimants can receive a food supplement. Toronto Councillor Rob Ford and the Toronto Welfare Office apparantly think that people can adequately feed themselves at the current welfare rate. A complaint has been lodged against Dr. Wong, a downtown Toronto physician for signing application forms to enable people on welfare to get the food supplement. Dr. Wong should be praised, not criticized.

Perhaps the Ontario Auditor, Toronto Welfare office staff, and Councillor Ford should do the math or even better, try living on $572 per month.