Yesterday, the Government of Ontario released their Fall 2020 budget entitled Ontario Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. The budget lays out the province’s ongoing financial response to COVID-19 and sets the foundation for how the government will tackle economic recovery.
Eviction Prevention Supports
Our Hunger Lives Here report found that 38% of food bank respondents were worried about facing eviction in the coming months.In Daily Bread’s budget consultation submission, we asked that additional funds be made available for eviction prevention programs.
We were pleased to see the Government respond to this call with a $212 million top up to the Social Services Relief Fund that will help municipal service managers and Indigenous housing providers with shelter costs, expanding rent support programs, and investing in long-term housing solutions. We will be eagerly awaiting further details of when these funds will flow and how they will be disbursed by the City of Toronto.
Social Assistance Modernization
The budget fell short by not including any increase to social assistance rates, which currently fall well below the deep poverty line and have been frozen for two years. However, the government took a positive step forward by announcing a $526 million increase to the social assistance budget, reversing course from the significant cuts announced in 2019.
This funding will be used for modernizing social assistance administration and changing how employment supports are provided. There are a number of ways that social assistance can be improved, but it will be critical that the government meaningfully engage with social assistance recipients to ensure that any changes made lead to an improvement in people’s experiences and outcomes. We will continue to advance recommendations for improving social assistance administration with our partners across the province.
Unfortunately, there was no mention of funding for the province’s new poverty reduction strategy, which is anticipated to be released before the end of the calendar year. Food bank visits continue to rise due to COVID-19, and without investments made in poverty reduction, the road to recovery will be especially long for low-income households.
We will continue to work closely with the government to advocate for effective poverty reduction measures.
Contact your MPP today to tell them that poverty reduction should be at the core of the ongoing crisis response and plan for recovery.
To read Daily Bread’s submission to the Government of Ontario’s budget consultation, click here.