Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s minister for community and social services, is responsible for improving social assistance. At a community consultation in Peterborough on July 3, he made two notable statements:

“If it were up to me, I would raise social assistance rates by a lot more than $100 a month. But it’s not up to me.”

“I have to tell the story in a way that will marshal the resources. And you and I have to tell our story in a better way.”

While I am encouraged that Minister McMeekin recognizes the inadequacy of current social assistance rates and supports a significant increase, why does he not have the power to raise the rates? And why should such a decision depend on the quality of the stories that poor people tell — why is he making it our responsibility to prove that we deserve lives of health and dignity?