Back in 1993, a single person on social assistance would receive $663 per month, which is $962 in today’s dollars. The poverty gap (the difference between total income and the low-income measure) for these individuals was 20 per cent. Today, that single person on Ontario Works (OW) only receives $681 and experiences a poverty gap of a startling 59 per cent.

Much of this poverty gap can be explained by the austerity measures during the “Common Sense Revolution” of 1995, when the Harris government cut social assistance by 21 per cent and froze rates until they left government in 2002. Since then, the cost of living has continued to rise, yet progress on reversing the damage has been limited.