TORONTO — More than 200 advocacy groups have signed an open letter asking the Ontario government to double disability support payment rates and ensure they keep up with the soaring cost of living.
The letter, released by the Income Security Advocacy Centre, says the government's plan to increase disability support payment rates in next month's budget is far from what financial aid recipients need to "survive."
The recent provincial election saw the Progressive Conservatives promise to raise Ontario Disability Support Program rates by five per cent and introduce legislation to tie annual increases to inflation.
ISAC says this proposal amounts to $58 extra per month for ODSP recipients and doesn't account for the 458,000 low-income people who receive support through Ontario Works.
Social assistance rates have been stagnant since 2018, with a single person able to receive up to $1,169 a month on ODSP and $733 on OW — well below the poverty line.
ISAC says record-breaking inflation rates have driven costs up so high that it's "impossible" for social assistance recipients to pay for basic needs, including housing, food and medication.
"With continued inflation, and the associated increase in cost of living, 5 per cent is not nearly enough of a rate increase to survive," ISAC wrote. "We call on this government to double both OW and ODSP rates, and to index these rates to inflation."
The letter was addressed to Premier Doug Ford, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and Social Service Minister Merrilee Fullerton, and signed by more than 200 non-profits that advocate for poverty reduction and income security. Signatories include legal clinics, health organizations, social service providers and community groups.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.
The Canadian Press