KENORA – TREATY 3 – Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services announced the Ontario government’s social assistance plan today. At the early onset of the Ford government, Minister MacLeod announced the cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot, changed the planned increase of social assistance rates from 3% to 1.5% for Ontario Works and ODSP clients and committed to a comprehensive social assistance plan within 100 days.
The numbers of individuals accessing social assistance vary across Treaty #3 First Nation communities. Individuals on social assistance, however, face many challenges. According to the 2017 Nutritious Food Basket results completed by the Northwestern Health Unit the cost per month to feed a family of four is $976.20 which represents an increase of 6.5% since 2010. As the cost of living increases, it is increasingly more difficult for families to purchase healthy foods to prepare which impacts their health.
Ogichidaa Kavanaugh stated, “I would like bring attention to the fact that poverty and health outcomes are linked. Within the Northwest LHIN 14 profile, it highlights that people have a lower life expectancy, higher mortality rates, higher rates of colorectal cancer, lung cancer, higher rates of ambulatory visits, higher rates of hospitalization for diabetes, heart failure, stroke, and less access to a family doctor.”
Many Treaty #3 First Nation communities are small, isolated and consequently, families have to travel long distances into the municipal centres to purchase services: groceries, banking, education, receive health services or pursue employment opportunities with limited transportation options.
Grand Council Treaty#3 had extended an invitation to Minister Greg Rickford to attend the Income Assistance session on November 14-15, 2018; however, he declined to attend. “The province’s media announcement stated they will be undertaking consultations with First Nations and I will await a call from Minister MacLeod to have a dialogue on undertaking those consultations with the leadership of Treaty #3 and the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty # 3,” stated Ogichidaa Kavanaugh.
“I am worried with the arrival of the winter season that our families will also be impacted by the cost of heating their homes during the cold winter months” concluded Ogichidaa Kavanaugh.