Feed Ontario would like to put forward the following recommendations for the 2020 Ontario budget Link opens a new window:

1. Close the gap between Ontario’s social assistance rates and the poverty line

Ontario’s poverty line (or Market Basket Measure) is, on average, $20,057 per year for a single person; however, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program provide only $8,796 or $14,028 per year, respectively. This means that program participants experience a shortfall between $5,640 – $12,948 (or $470 to $1,079 per month) when trying to balance their income against the cost of even their most basic necessities.

What’s more, this shortfall is growing, as the income provided by Ontario Works and ODSP has not been maintained alongside inflation. In 2018, the monthly income gap of Ontario Works, for example, fell $877 below the poverty line – one year later, it now falls $908 below the poverty line.

Feed Ontario requests that the Government of Ontario include increased support for Ontario Works and ODSP recipients in its 2020 budget. Further, it requests the development of a social assistance research commission to advise on social assistance rates and policies, as outlined in Bill 60.

Market Basket Measure to Social Assistance Income
(Monthly expenses/income – indexed to 2019 dollars)
Geography MBM ODSP OW Shortfall ODSP Shortfall OW
Rural Areas $1,639 $1,169 $733 -$470 -$906
Small Population $1,630 $1,169 $733 -$461 -$897
Medium Population $1,528 $1,169 $733 -$359 -$795
Large Urban $1,646 $1,169 $733 -$477 -$913
Ottawa – Gatineau $1,790 $1,169 $733 -$621 -$1,057
Hamilton $1,655 $1,169 $733 -$486 -$922
Toronto $1,812 $1,169 $733 -$643 -$1,079

2. Retain the current definition of ‘disability’ under the Ontario Disability Support Program

In Ontario, 1 in 3 individuals who access food banks indicate ODSP as their primary source of income. If the definition of ‘disability’ is narrowed to exclude episodic illness, it is likely that many of these individuals will no longer qualify for this support and, consequently, fall into deeper levels poverty.

Further, as stated by 80 health care and service groups in a letter provided to MCCSS in fall 2019, reducing eligibility will result in worse health outcomes for those currently accessing ODSP, and come at a greater cost to the province through increased stress on Ontario’s health care system.

Feed Ontario requests that the provincial government retain its current definition of disability, ensuring that Ontarians, when faced with debilitating illness, are able to access the support they need.

Conditions that can Result in an Episodic Disability
Anxiety Cancer
Arthritis Crohn’s Disease
Bipolar Disorder Multiple Sclerosis
Lupus PTSD
Parkinson’s Disease Epilepsy
Diabetes Depression

3.  Retain the clawback on earned income under Ontario Works and ODSP at 50 percent

Feed Ontario commends the provincial government’s decision to cancel increasing clawbacks under the social assistance programs.

As the provincial government continues to evaluate Ontario Works and ODSP, Feed Ontario requests that current clawback rates are maintained or decreased. This will ensure clawbacks do not act as a disincentive to work or create further barriers for individuals working towards financial stability.

Sample Net Monthly Income of Ontario Works Recipient that is Working Part-Time
Current Clawback Rate
(50% after earning exemption of $200)
Increased Clawback Rate
(75% after earning exemption of $300)
Hours Worked 23 23
After-Tax Income (with LIFT credit) $1,242 $1,242
Max. OW Support $733 $733
Clawback -$521 -$707
Remaining OW Support $212 $26
Net Monthly Income $1,454 $1,269


This submission has been formally endorsed by:

Representative Position Food Bank City/ Town
Laura Fisher President Bobcaygeon Helps Bobcaygeon
JoAnne Sytsma Chair, Board of Directors Brockville & Area Food Bank Brockville
Robin Bailey Executive Director Burlington Food Bank Burlington
Carol Greenwood Chair, Board of Directors Central Food Network Wilberforce
Brenda Leclair Executive director Chatham Outreach For Hunger Chatham
Carole Fuhrer Executive Director Community Care of West Niagara Town of Lincoln, Beamsville
Neil Hetherington Chief Executive Officer Daily Bread Food Bank Toronto
Andrew Nixon Coordinator Good Happenings Food Bank South River
Pauline Cripps Administrator Guelph Food Bank Guelph
Karen Leatherbarrow Chair, Board of Directors Hagersville Food Bank Hagersville
Joanne Santucci Executive Director Hamilton Food Share Hamilton
Wendy Oegahmagabow Executive Director Harvest Share Community Food Program Parry Sound
Robert Lefebvre Accountant – Volunteer Hawkesbury Central Food Bank Hawkesbury
Joan Clarkson Coordinator Helping Hand Food Bank Tillsonburg
Cathy Ashby Executive Director House of Lazarus Mountain
Heather Kirby General Manager Kawartha Lakes Food Source City of Kawartha Lakes, Lindsay
Tammy Parent Manager Lanark County Food Bank – The Hunger Stop Carleton Place
Marnie Hall Executive Director Manitoulin Family Resources Mindemoya
Wayne Reid President Mattawa and Area Food Bank Mattawa
Judy Poulin Executive Director Newmarket Food Pantry Newmarket
Kim Cucoch President North Frontenac Food Bank Sharbot Lake
Ryan Noble Executive Director North York Harvest Food Bank Toronto
Heather Hayes Executive Director Orangeville Food Bank Orangeville
Michael Maidment Chief Executive Officer Ottawa Food Bank Ottawa
Dan Irwin Executive Director Partners in Mission Food Bank Kingston
Volker Kromm Executive Director Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA) Thunder Bay
Doug Brookes President Renfrew & District Food Bank Renfrew
Rasheeda Qureshi Executive Director Seva Food Bank Mississauga
Anne-Marie Foucault Family Services Society of St. Vincent de Paul Goderich Goderich
Victoria England Food Security Programs Coordinator Southern Frontenac Community Services Corp. Food Bank Sydenham
Wendi Campbell Chief Executive Officer The Food Bank of Waterloo Region Kitchener
David Bradbury Vice President The Good Shepherd Food Bank of Alliston Alliston
Myles Vanni Executive Director The Inn of the Good Shepherd Sarnia
Meghan Nicholls Executive Director The Mississauga Food Bank Mississauga
Alice Wannan Community and Family Services Director The Salvation Army Community Services Owen Sound
April Greenwood Community Ministries Coordinator The Salvation Army Family Services Norwich
Abigail Mills Director The Salvation Army Food Bank Napanee
Anne Watters Community & Family Services Manager The Salvation Army Fort Erie Fort Erie
William Ratelband Community & Family Services Coordinator The Salvation Army Paris Food Bank Brantford & Paris
Lorraine Shea Assistant Executive Director The Salvation Army Strathroy Strathroy
Chris Peacock Executive Director The Sharing Place Food Centre Orillia
Linda Downey President The Storehouse Wellington & District Wellington, Prince Edward County
June Muir Chief Executive Officer Windsor & Essex Food Bank Association/ Unemployed Help Centre Windsor and Essex County