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5 things you should know about the 2016 Federal Budget

The 2016 Federal Budget brought the federal government back to the table when it comes to fighting poverty across the country. From the creation of a new federal child benefit to coordinating a national housing strategy, there is potential that these investments can make a substantial impact in poverty reduction when combined with provincial and local initiatives.

  1. Creation of the Canada Child Benefit
    The new Canada Child Benefit announced in the federal budget is one of the biggest developments in social policy at the federal level in many years. This new progressive, non-taxable benefit has real potential to lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. However the devil will be in the details when it comes to families receiving social assistance, who would be among the poorest families needing the maximum amount of the benefit the most.
    The 2016 federal budget created the new Canada Child Benefit by consolidated the existing patchwork of federal child benefits, and targeting it so it could better benefit low income families. The Canada Child Benefit will provide a maximum annual benefit of up to$6,400 per child under the age of six, and up to $5,400 per child for those aged six through 17. According to the federal budget document, for families receiving less than $30,000 a year, this could mean a maximum increase of $1,548 per child under six, and a $1,484 increase for per child six and over.
    In Toronto, 35 per cent of households accessing food banks are families with children. This extra income could make a big impact in reducing the need for food banks for these families. However, in order to ensure the families who need the support the most will benefit from the new Canada Child Benefit, it is important that the provinces and territories do not claw back that income from families receiving social assistance.
    This is a particularly important consideration for those accessing food banks in Toronto, as nearly 60 per cent of families with children accessing food banks receive social assistance as their main form of income. While the previously implemented National Child Benefit Supplement allowed provinces and territories to claw back this income from families on social assistance, the federal government can take a strong lead in setting a standard of not allowing this income to be clawed back.
  2. Creation of a National Early Learning and Child Care Framework
    Lack of affordable childcare is a significant financial barrier for many families. Past Who’s Hungry surveys found that almost a quarter of parents said that they could not enter the workforce because of both cost and access to daycare.
    The federal budget proposed to invest $500 million in 2017–18 to support the establishment of a National Framework on Early Learning and Child Care, to be developed in consultation with the provinces, territories and indigenous communities beginning this year.
  3. Increased access to Employment Insurance
    The most common reason people need a food bank for the first time is because they have lost their job.
    Many cannot access E.I. because they do not have enough hours and have to apply directly to social assistance as a last resort. Increasing part time, contract and seasonal arrangements make acquiring enough hours to qualify more difficult.
    The federal budget expands E.I. coverage to those that are new to or re-entering the labour force, by reducing the number of hours required for them have worked in order to be eligible for the program. This will expand access to the program for an estimated 50,000 additional claimants.
    The budget also commits to reducing the waiting period to access E.I. from two weeks to one week. This will give people who have lost their jobs quicker access to a source of income.
  4. Topping up the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Seniors
    Food insecurity among seniors has been increasing. The Canadian Community Health Survey reported a 24 per cent increase in the number of severely food insecure seniors from 2007 to 2012. For many seniors on low income, their pensions have not been able to keep up with rapidly rising food and housing costs.
    The federal budget has committed to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement for single seniors with the lowest levels of income, increasing their payments by $947, as well as adjusting benefits on a quarterly basis to match increases in the cost of living.
    The federal budget also commits to restoring the eligibility for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement to age 65 from age 67. This is especially important for those living in poverty who will be able to receive this essential form of income when they turn 65.
  5. Increasing affordable housing and leading a National Housing Strategy
    One of the most common barriers food bank clients face is the high cost of housing. Clients spend 71 per cent of their income on rent and utilities, and one-third skip meals in order to be able to keep a roof over their heads. Toronto is becoming increasingly unaffordable for too many families, and the supply of subsidized housing units is way too small to be able to keep up with the demand.
    The new federal budget makes a $2.3 billion commitment over two years to repair and retrofit existing subsidized housing units as well as creating new affordable housing. The budget also commits the federal government to leading the coordination of provinces, territories, and other groups to develop a National Housing Strategy. With the City of Toronto, the Province and Federal government now aligned in seeking to address the need of affordable housing, there is new opportunity to create long term, transformational change in this area.

Date Added: March 29, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Government, In the News, News, Research — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 1:46 pm



Reducing poverty across Canada

Did you listen to our Telephone Town Hall last month?

On Tuesday, the federal government is expected to release the budget. Will poverty reduction be a priority for the new government in this budget? We certainly hope so. At Daily Bread’s Telephone Town Hall last month, Daily Bread assembled a panel of experts to discuss what the federal government could do to reduce poverty in Canada. Michael Mendelson (Caledon Institute of Social Policy), John Stapleton (Metcalf Foundation and Daily Bread board member) and Anita Khanna (Campaign 2000 National Campaign Coordinator) discussed child benefits and affordable housing issues, as well as taking calls from listeners.

Missed it? You can catch up here by listening to the audio online.


Date Added: March 21, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Government, News, Policy — Anderson @ 3:52 pm



Easter Holiday Weekend Meal Programs & Drop In Hours

Click here to find out more information on meal programs and drop-in hours over the Easter holidays around Toronto.  Special holiday meals provided by drop-ins are noted. The information on this list has been created by the Toronto Drop-In Network (TDIN) from information provided by TDIN members and Daily Bread Food Bank.

The information is accurate as of March 17, 2016 but is subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm services, meals and hours!

Date Added: March 17, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Meal Programs, News — Tags: , , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 10:55 am



Daily Bread Food Bank announces new food programs in Etobicoke and Scarborough

As Daily Bread’s Spring Drive starts, Executive Director Gail Nyberg announced new community partners who are working with Daily Bread to expand much-needed food programs in Etobicoke and Scarborough.

Where poverty is moving in Toronto

Daily Bread’s Who’s Hungry report identified a drastic shift in where poverty is moving in Toronto. Priced out of the downtown core, people on low incomes are being pushed to the inner suburbs of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke. Rent in these areas may be slightly more affordable but there is also a lack of social services, including food programs, to support people on low incomes. Food bank visits in these areas have risen by 45 per cent since 2008, and the few food programs that are available are stretched to their limits.

New food programs in Etobicoke and Scarborough

In response, Daily Bread has been working with a number of community organizations to develop new food programs in these under-served areas. In early September, the doors of Toronto West Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church Food Bank opened in north Etobicoke. Initially serving 32 households, they now serve over 75 households each week. Daily Bread is also partnering with Canadian South Asian Growth and Support Services and Working Women Community Centre to open a new food bank in Scarborough, starting in June.

Hunger is about more than food

“At Daily Bread, we believe that food is the most basic need of all,” said Gail Nyberg, Daily Bread’s executive director. “But, as a community we need to ask why people in this city can’t afford to feed themselves and their children. And we need to look to our city government, the Ontario government and the federal government, and ask why they think it’s acceptable that a third of people coming to a food bank are children.”

Daily Bread’s Spring Drive

Donations to Daily Bread’s Spring Drive will allow Daily Bread to partner with more organizations to provide nutritious food to those people who are struggling with hunger. The Spring Drive ends April 1, with goals of $225,000 and 150,000 pounds of food. Financial donations can be made easily and securely online at www.dailybread.ca or by mailing a cheque to Daily Bread Food Bank, 191 New Toronto St., Toronto, Ontario, M8V 2E7. Non-perishable food donations can be dropped off at any local fire hall.


Date Added: March 11, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Member Agencies, News, Spring Drive — Tags: , , — Anderson @ 1:15 pm



Order your local food favourite – and help fight hunger too!

UberEats logo-largeOn March 11, we’ve got a great way to give a little extra back to Daily Bread Food Bank.

We have partnered with UberEATS, a new food-ordering app that delivers the best of Toronto from the local spots you love right when you want it.  On Friday, March 11, UberEATS will donate $2 from every order to Daily Bread. That $2 is enough to pay for two whole meals provided to a child or adult who gets their groceries at a neighbourhood food bank.

“We’re all about celebrating the cities we serve, “says UberEATS Toronto general manager Bowie Cheung. “That’s why we are so excited to support a great Toronto organization that is working to end hunger in this city for almost 100,000 people a year.”

So, just by getting together for lunch with your workmates or winding up the week with friends for a bite after work, you can support a good cause. The more orders on UberEATS on March 11, the more meals we can provide to people in need.

Want to do more? It is easy to make a donation right here!  And, of course, we’re counting on you to run a food & cash drive to help us meet our Spring Drive goal.

Spread the word! Go to t.uber.com/ubereatsapp to download the UberEATS app and mark your calendars for Friday March 11 to help us in our fight against hunger.


Date Added: March 8, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, News, Spring Drive — Tags: , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 8:54 am



Ontario Budget 2016: A strong commitment to social assistance reform

The 2016 Ontario budget took bold steps to transform an outdated income security system.

In our 2016 pre-budget consultation, we asked for changes that would help more low income Ontarians live in good health and dignity, as well as move toward a modern income security system that supports people’s transitions to employment and improve their income security. These were recommendations that were reiterated from our 2015 submission, where we outlined 5 key ideas from the final report of the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario, Brighter Prospects, which we wanted to see implemented.

In their latest budget, the province has set out commitments to address three of those ideas. They include the $100 total increase to Ontario Works rates for single adults without children; a commitment to reduce (to 100 per cent) the claw back rate on child support payments for households receiving social assistance; and laying the groundwork for the introduction of housing benefit for low income people to better afford their housing.

Daily Bread Recommendation
2016 Ontario Budget
• Increasing the social assistance rates, in particular bringing the Ontario Works rate for single person households to the full $100 increase recommended by the commission. • Provided a further top-up to singles without children receiving Ontario Works — bringing their total increase to $25 per month more than last year, and $100 more per month than they received in 2012.
• Setting a withdrawal rate for child support payments based on a rationale and empirical evidence, and less than the dollar for dollar clawback that exists currently. • A commitment to introduce changes to social assistance rules so that families receiving social assistance who receive child support payments can benefit from more of this income.
• A commitment to examine and design a Housing Benefit to help all low income tenants in Ontario better afford their housing. • A commitment to the development of a framework for a portable housing benefit, and transformation of social and supportive housing programs.

• $2.4 million in 2016–17 to pilot a new portable housing benefit that would offer more options for those fleeing domestic violence, benefiting approximately 500 households.

In addition to these commitments, the province has also committed to Basic Income pilot project.

A “Basic Income” is an income which would provide households with enough money that they wouldn’t have to live in poverty. The amount of income a household receives would either replace or complement other forms of income they might be receiving, such as child tax benefits or social assistance, in order to bring them above a pre-determined “poverty line”.

Many see the idea of a basic income as one that replaces the outdated form of provincial social assistance which provides only very low levels of income, as well as has restrictive rules which create barriers to escaping poverty. In the 2016 budget, the province seeks to pilot a project which would address these issues, including providing improved and more seamless financial support for those making the transition from welfare to work.

We’re hopeful that the results of this pilot project will provide the evidence needed to create further, large scale changes to the income security support system in Ontario.

Other important steps that still need to be taken

In the meantime, the Province should continue to increase the liquid assets allowable for those on social assistance. Low asset limits can undermine financial resiliency and jeopardizes retirement savings, which makes it more difficult to escape poverty and may cost the government more in the long term. Currently, the allowable level of liquid assets is $2,500 for single people receiving Ontario Works and $5,000 for those on the Ontario Disability Support Program. While the allowable assets for those receiving Ontario Works have increased significantly in the last few years, Ontario should continue to increase asset levels for both programs in the near future.

Additionally, there needs to be work to replace rent scales in Rent Geared to Income (RGI) housing with the 30 per cent of income RGI calculation outlined in the Brighter Prospects report, which will help prevent the sudden spike in rent for tenants receiving social assistance who are able to earn added income from employment.


Date Added: March 1, 2016 | Filed under: Blog, Government, In the News, News, Policy, Research — Tags: , , , , , — Adam Paralovos @ 8:56 am