Building a Better Ontario

Feed Ontario recognizes that hunger is a symptom of poverty. Food banks exist across this province, not because there is a lack of food, but because many individuals do not have access to a sufficient income that allows them to afford all of their basic necessities.

Long-term policy solutions are key to not only ending hunger, but alleviating poverty – but these require time and collaboration from community leaders and all levels of government. Feed Ontario regularly meets with community stakeholders and political representatives to discuss its policy recommendations for addressing poverty and hunger. 


Recommendations for Change

Reduce the clawback on earned income under Ontario Works and ODSP from 75% to 50%

The Government of Ontario announced changes to the rules for earned income on social assistance, including an increase to clawbacks from 50% to 75% of every dollar earned after the exemption. This could make it even more difficult for social assistance recipients to achieve income security through employment. 

We Recommend:  Retaining the current clawback rate of 50 percent, to further support social assistance recipients as they work to establish sufficient resources and a strong foundation that will enable them to move out of poverty.

Further Reading: Social Assistance Changes in Ontario 

Retain the Current Provincial Definition of 'Disability'

The Government of Ontario announced its consideration of aligning ODSP’s definition of disability of disability with one of the federal definitions, which may exclude individuals with episodic disabilities. All Ontarians living with a disability should be assured that they can meet their basic needs, including through ODSP when necessary.

We Recommend: Retain the current definition of disability, ensuring that Ontarians faced with debilitating illness are able to access the support they need.

Further Reading: Social Assistance Changes in Ontario 

Invest In Affordable Housing Via Construction, Repairs and a Portable Housing Benefit

90 percent of food bank clients are rental or social housing tenants, and spend more than 70 percent of their income on rent.  This leaves very little for necessities like hydro, transportation, medicine, and food.

We Support: A portable housing benefit to assist low-income individuals with the high cost of housing and investments in affordable housing construction and repair, as per provincial commitments made in the National Housing Strategy bilateral agreement.

Further Reading: (Un)Affordable Housing and Food Bank Use | The Rising Cost of Housing and its Impact on Hunger in Ontario | A Housing Benefit Would Reduce The Need For Food Banks | Without Affordable Housing, The Need For Food Banks Will Remain

Create Secure Employment

Over the last decade, there has been a significant rise in precarious employment. These jobs often do not offer benefits, have unpredictable schedules, and pay low wages. This makes it difficult, or even impossible, to afford all of their basic expenses each month. Many employed Ontarians are living paycheque to paycheque, and have no choice but to turn to food banks to fill the gap.

We Recommend: Creating policies that ensures Ontario’s workers have sufficient income to afford their basic necessities each month, and save for unexpected expenses and retirement. 

Reinstate Ontario's Basic Income Pilot for its Intended Duration

In 2017, the Government of Ontario launched a Basic Income Pilot to investigate the viability of a guaranteed income benefit as a long-term solution to poverty.  This program was discontinued before its results could be determined.

We Recommend: Reinstating Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot for its intended duration. Ensuring the complete investigation of this program is an invaluable opportunity to test alternate ways of assisting people in need. To learn more about Ontario’s Basic Income project, please visit Hunger Report 2018

Ensure Social Assistance Rates Are Evidence-Based

The amount given to recipients of social assistance can be arbitrary, instead of based on the actual cost of living for an individual or family. 

We Support: A private member’s bill (Bill 60), introduced by NDP MPP Paul Miller and supported by PC MPP Bob Bailey, would create a non-partisan Social Assistance Research Commission to recommend evidence-based rates. Bill 60 has passed first reading with all-party support, and goes to second reading in May 2019.

Further Reading: Bringing Social Assistance Into This Decade Can Fix Poverty Gap (2016)

Farmer Tax Credit (Bill 36)

Ontario farmers who donate to local food banks and community meal programs are now eligible to receive a 25% tax credit based on the fair market value of the donated product!

Formerly the Ontario Association of Food Banks, Feed Ontario was instrumental in working with the agricultural community and MPP Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton) to gain support on this initiative, which was passed in 2013 with all-party support.  Ontario is the first province in Canada to offer this tax credit.

 Read Our Fact Sheet

Learn More

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