Jessica Sikora —
The annual cost of living across Canada rose by 2% this January over last year. The cost of food, however, rose at twice that rate (4%). In Ontario, the increase in food prices has been even steeper at 4.7%. These increases make food a luxury for low-income people, and people on social assistance. A person on social assistance receives 55% less than they would have received in 1995, when Premier Mike Harris cut the payment.
A recent poll of people in middle-class and higher income brackets found that the situation isn’t happy one up there either. 57% of all Canadian residents said that it was getting “more difficult to afford to feed their households last year,” while 40% reported “choosing less healthy options in the aisle.”
“Bear in mind poor people spend significantly greater proportions of their income on food and other basic necessities when compared to those with higher incomes. An sharp rise in food prices without a corresponding increase in income is forcing many on social assistance to go hungry,” says Yogi Acharya, organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.
Despite this crisis the Ontario Liberals have only announced an abysmal 1.5% increase in Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program rates; an increase that won’t actually be received until the fall.
OPSEU members work in ODSP offices, community based organizations and health agencies across Toronto. Every day we see the proof that Ontario’s social assistance programs are too meager to allow families to meet their basic needs, never mind live with dignity. We are proud to stand alongside OCAP, JFAAP, and Put Food in the Budget to call on the Ontario Government to prioritize funding for real solutions to end poverty in our communities
“Premier Wynne: live up to your promise to be the Social Justice Premier, and raise the rates so people can Put Food in the Budget,” says Pauline Bryant of the Put Food in the Budget campaign.