Ford Watch: Cuts to recent increase in social assistance by 1.5%

The Ontario PCs have announced they are slashing a planned increase to social assistance rates. Around 940,000 OW and ODSP recipients were promised an increase of 3 per cent in the most recent Liberal budget, due to take effect in fall 2018. However, in an apparent bid to ram through cuts, the government has set a 100-day deadline to implement a series of reforms, including cutting the planned OW and ODSP rate increase from 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent and ending the basic income pilot.

With a small number of exceptions, the government has announced that all other initiatives passed in the previous budget will be scrapped. Other planned changes that are being thrown out include: an increase in the amount of employment income that can be earned without impacting social assistance benefits, set to rise to $400 per month in fall 2018 and with further increases planned; elimination of TFSA and RRSP savings limits; and increases to limits on cash and other assets. The personal needs allowance increase is being cut from a planned 2 per cent to 1.5 per cent. There is no mention of an increase to the comfort allowance, which was set to be raised by 2 per cent.

The government has indicated it aims to focus on employment over social assistance, “helping people lift themselves out of poverty”, but has refused to say whether this means a return to the workfare program adopted by the Ontario Conservative government of the nineties.

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