With the re-election of the Progressive Conservatives, the Provincial Government has re-tabled the 2022 Ontario Budget. Here are a few items Daily Bread is taking note of:
First, around disability, in addition to delivering on an election campaign promise to raise the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) by 5%, the government has moved to tie all subsequent annual hikes to the rate of inflation. Only two other provinces have indexed social assistance rates to the cost of living.
In tandem, the government has also introduced a 5% increase to the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program, which currently supports 31,000 children across the province as of June 2022.
Both increases are small enough that they will not make a big difference in the additional costs of living faced by people with disabilities. One parent described it as an extra hour a month of support from a Personal Support Worker.
Second, regarding low-income and vulnerable populations, to support families with children with their pandemic-related education costs, the government is rolling out a two-year $225 million plan. Details, however, on who qualifies, the amounts per child, and how to apply have not been released and are expected later in the year.
The government has also raised the threshold for the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax Credit (LIFT) from $38,000 to $50,000 for individuals and from $68,500 to $82,500 for families. This is projected to give 1.7 million low-income workers an average tax break of $300/year.
And, to further support vulnerable and low-income populations, seniors over the age of 70 are receiving a tax credit meant to offset the cost of home care medical expenses, that will give them up to $1500 on $6000 in spending for in-home hospital style beds, canes, walkers, hearing aids, prescription glasses, adult diapers, or private caregivers. This will be available to seniors earning less than $65,000 annually.
Third, for housing, Ontario negotiated an agreement with the federal government to provide a combined $127 million to municipal rent banks so as to keep vulnerable Ontarians housed. A fifth round of the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) opened in April 2022 and will continue until the end of December 2022.
Following up on the recommendations of last year’s provincial Housing Affordability Task Force to build 1.5 million homes in the next ten years to address the housing crisis, the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs has introduced legislative changes that would give the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa more power to achieve these targets.
The province is also launching a Housing Supply Action Plan Implementation Team (HSAPIT), which will provide advice on market housing initiatives. The full list of team members will be released in the coming weeks, with the first meeting scheduled for early fall.
Last, on transit, the budget maintains its commitment to expanding public transit with $61.1 billion over 10 years, of which $28 billion will be invested in Toronto and the GTA; this includes the Ontario Line, and the Yonge North, Scarborough, and Eglinton West subway projects as well as a few GO Transit extensions.
At Daily Bread, we collaborate with all to eliminate food insecurity and advocate for solutions to end poverty, and with this renewed budget, we look forward to partnering with the government to achieve gains in these areas and realize our mission of a city without hunger.