As an advocate for poverty reduction and affordability in our province, Feed Ontario participated in the Government of Ontario’s pre-budget consultations. As a result, its written submission earlier this year pointed to stagnant and inadequate social assistance programs. It also pointed to inadequate and unaffordable housing as significant contributors to the steady rise in food bank use over the last four years. With the release of the 2022 Ontario Budget last week, Feed Ontario was encouraged to see several positive investments that may benefit food bank visitors. These include:

  • The Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit amounts and eligibility will be expanded. LIFT is a non -refundable tax credit that can be used to reduce or eliminate Ontario personal income tax.
  • A new Seniors at Home Tax Credit will provide a 25 percent tax break to help cover at-home medical costs up to $6,000.
  • New job training investments This will include maintaining the job training tax credit, along with additional funding for skills training and employment programs. It also means relaunching the Better Jobs Ontario program and reducing barriers for internationally-trained immigrants to work.
  • The Social Services Relief Fund  will continue to help social services keep vulnerable people safe.

The budget mentions important, previously-announced, commitments to raising the minimum wage to $15.50. In addition, decreased childcare fees through the bilateral agreement with the federal government were also noted.

Feed Ontario was disappointed that the provincial government did not address key issues that are important to poverty reduction.

  • There were no increases mentioned for social assistance rates. Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates have been frozen since 2018 despite significant increases to the cost of living.
  • There were no commitment made to increase funding for social housing or the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit. Despite Ontario’s current housing crisis there is no indication of plans to increase the construction of affordable housing beyond its previous commitments to the National Housing Strategy.

Feed Ontario looks forward to the government’s continued development of benefits and programs that help reduce poverty in Ontario. Important advocacy work to help create evidence-based policy recommendations that address these issues will continue.

Feed Ontario is calling on all MPPs and candidates to make poverty reduction a key election issue this year. The organization has put forward three BIG ideas on how the Government of Ontario can put food banks out of business. These ideas are, firstly, to end legislated poverty through improvements to Ontario’s social assistance programs. Secondly, make housing more affordable. Finally, create decent jobs for all.

Quick Facts:

  • 592,000 people visited Ontario food banks more than 3.6 million times last year. This represents a significant increase in food bank use across Ontario.
  • 59% of visitors cite social assistance as their primary source of income.
  • 60% of respondents have less than $100 left per month after paying housing costs according to a survey that was done in September.
  • Ontario has the highest proportion of minimum wage workers in Canada. The percentage of Ontario workers being paid minimum wage has tripled over the last 20 years, now representing 15% of Ontario’s workforce.
  • Many working Ontarians rely on food banks to make ends meet. Between 2017 and 2020, the proportion of individuals accessing food banks that cited employment as their primary source of income increased by 33%.

Learn More:

Feed Ontario’s Pre-Budget Submission 2022

2021 Hunger Report: How the Pandemic Accelerated the Income and Affordability Crisis in Ontario

2020 Hunger Report: The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Bank Use in Ontario

2019 Hunger Report: Ontario’s Changing Employment Landscape and Its Impact on Food Bank Use