THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Community members, injured workers, social assistance recipients and front-line social service agency workers are calling on the Province to make an immediate billion dollar investment to raise the rates for the 1 in 15 people surviving on social assistance in Ontario.This call has been made at consultations on a Basic Income pilot project in Sudbury, Hamilton and Toronto.
As the province contemplates implementing a basic income, where individuals would be guaranteed a minimum yearly income to address systemic poverty, social assistance recipients and their allies have been rightly pointing out that they cannot wait years for the details of this project to be worked out when they are living more than 50% below the poverty line.
Kim Chicago, a former Ontario Works Caseworker says, “We must raise the rates immediately. While I was on the job, I saw so much suffering: people crying in the office because they couldn’t afford to eat or find somewhere to live, never mind being able to get furniture, do their laundry, buy personal hygiene items and clothes. I saw people daily who had simply given up on life.”
A billion dollar investment would have an immediate effect on low-income people’s lives and reduce the downstream costs of poverty on health, education and other social systems. The investment represents less than 1% of total provincial budget investments. The Thunder Bay economy would benefit from this investment as low-income people tend to spend on basic necessities in their local communities.
The Thunder Bay Coalition to Raise Social Assistance Rates is asking community members to contact their Members of Provincial Parliament, Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro, and support the call for at minimum a billion dollar investment in raising social assistance rates and boost our local economy. The Coalition will also be participating in the Basic Income Consultation to ensure that the pilot project is designed to best meet the needs of low-income people.