Social assistance is a program of last resort, yet has become a trap for too many Ontario residents. In Hamilton alone, close to 50,000 individuals rely on either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program as their primary source for income support.

Social Assistance rates are so desperately low that most recipients are surviving in the deepest poverty in our society. A single person on Ontario Works receives just $626 a month on which to live, certainly not enough to cover the basic necessities of life including shelter, heat, food and clothing (to say nothing about affording a telephone so a potential employer could call back). That depth of poverty is having a profound impact on individual health and community well-being. Poverty has a huge cost to our health care and education systems. Poverty is costing too much and preventing our community from achieving its full potential.

The number of Orangeville residents turning to the local food bank continues to increase.

In the last four years, the Orangeville Food Bank has recorded a 28 per cent increase in clients walking through its doors.

“It’s even higher if you consider the number of households,” said Lori Ker, a volunteer and board member at the food bank. “Hunger is often a hidden issue.”

The food bank will welcome about 350 people a month, 130 of whom are children.

“The Orangeville Food Bank operates as an emergency food bank, which means clients are only able to come once a month,” Ker explained.