No one should go hungry or face barriers to accessing food. Yet Toronto saw nearly 3 million visits to food banks with over 185,000 new clients in 2023.
Soaring housing costs, sky-rocketing food inflation, stagnating wages, and insufficient income supports are trapping more Canadians in deep poverty and driving record usage of food banks.
As governments develop their 2024 budgets, it is critical to prioritize economic security and poverty reduction efforts to build communities where everyone’s right to food is realized.
We urge policymakers to consider the following recommendations in the creation of the 2024 budgets:
For the Government of Canada
Reducing poverty among working-age Canadians with disabilities:
- Fully fund the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) by allocating $10-12 Billion annually. This assumes between 800,000-1 million eligible recipients receiving $800-$1,000 monthly on average with regional variation.
- The CDB should be non-taxable, portable, paid monthly, and indexed to inflation. It should not be administered through the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).
- That those who have already gone through the onerous process of “proving” their disabilities for other federal and provincial/territorial disability benefits such as the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), should not have to replicate the process to receive the CDB.
- Create a dedicated 24/7 telephone line for the CDB for people to call or text with questions or in need of support with their application in a language of their choice, to provide clarity and ensure that they submit a successful application the first time.
Targeted relief for skyrocketing food inflation:
- Create a new Groceries and Essentials Benefit by restructuring and expanding the Goods and Services Tax/-Harmonized Sales Tax rebate.
Preserving affordable housing:
- In partnership with the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC), develop and fund a non-profit acquisition strategy to enable non-profit, co-op, and land trust organizations to purchase at-risk rental buildings when they come onto the market.
Read Daily Bread’s full budget submission here.
For the Government of Ontario
Supporting low-income households:
- Update social assistance regulations and policy directives so that the Canada Disability Benefit (CDB) is considered fully exempted unearned income for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients, and is a top-up, and not a cost-savings measure.
- Improve the adequacy of Ontario Works (OW) by increasing rates, indexing to inflation annually, and increasing the earnings exemption to match that of ODSP to support transition into employment and the workforce.
Expanding affordable housing:
- Make surplus lands and assets available to non-profit and co-operative housing providers to grow deeply affordable and supportive housing options across Ontario.
- Provide incentives that prioritize non-profit housing development and establish flexible programs that maximize the non-profit sector’s capacity to compete in the housing market effectively.
Reaffirming decent work:
- Expedite the development of a portable benefits program so workers who are not provided with benefits through their employer can access medical, dental, vision, and ancillary health services.
- Progressively increase minimum wage to a living wage and increase investments in workers protections, including equal pay for temporary, contract and casual work.
Read Daily Bread’s full budget submission here.
For the City of Toronto
Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and Toronto’s Food Charter:
- Fully fund the forthcoming PRS Action Plan to continue progress on poverty reduction.
- Update Toronto’s Food Charter and develop an implementation plan.
Promoting resiliency among Toronto’s community food programs:
- Prioritize access to programming space for community food programs and a formalized role in the City’s emergency planning and preparedness.
Making public transit more affordable for low-income residents:
- Partner with community organizations to promote uptake of the Fair Pass Transit Discount Program to eligible residents.
- Fully implement Phase 3 of the Fair Pass Transit Discount Program.
Advocating for the needs of Torontonians to all orders of government:
- Continue to advocate to the federal government for a fully funded Canada Disability Benefit to support Torontonians with disabilities disproportionately impacted by poverty.
- Push the provincial government to release the findings and recommendations of the Portable Benefits Advisory Panel to support Torontonians in precarious employment.
- Continue to advocate to the federal government to step up with ‘New Deal’ funding for shelters to ensure that the city can support those most vulnerable.
- Explore the prospect of expediting permanent annual public transit funding with the federal government, to support the TTC – the country’s largest public transit system.
Read Daily Bread’s budget submission here.
We are grateful for the opportunity to provide input and recommendations to all levels of government as part of the 2024 budget consultation processes.
Should you have any questions or comments about any of these budget submissions, please contact [email protected]