May 2, 2013
Kathleen Wynne’s first budget provides concrete progress on social assistance reforms; but there are also missed opportunities to address increasing inequality in Ontario.
The budget delivered best on social assistance reforms. In contrast to the cutbacks to Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefits in last year’s budget, this year’s budget showed concrete progress in three areas. First, it moved forward in eliminating a number of “stupid rules” that were punitive and made life for people living on social assistance difficult and unaffordable. Second, it increased social assistance rates and acknowledged the desperate situation for single people living on Ontario Works by providing them with a larger increase (however, rates still remain so low that they continue to endanger health; people will still have to choose between rent and food). Last, it outlined next steps in the development of the poverty reduction strategy, including consultation with affected communities.