Statement on Social Assistance Reform Announcement

Almost 70 percent of the individuals that access Ontario’s food banks rely on social assistance as their primary source of income. This immediately tells us that Ontario’s current system is not working. The Ontario Association of Food Banks commends the Government of Ontario for taking a proactive look at how to improve the income support programs that impact so many of Ontario’s most vulnerable people.

The OAFB was pleased to see increases to the amount of income that social assistance recipients are able to retain from employment, a focus on wrap-around services, and an individualized and localized approach to providing recipients with support. While these changes provide a foundation to build upon, the OAFB is very concerned that the Government of Ontario did not provide details on how support will be affected during the roll-out period, as well as how redefining ‘disability’ may affect recipients moving forward.

Further, the OAFB is disappointed that there were no increases to social assistance rates announced, as the current income provided falls significantly short of what individuals require to afford even their most basic needs.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks strongly encourages the Government of Ontario to increase social assistance rates to reflect today’s cost of living, alongside the structural improvements it is planning to make to Ontario’s social assistance programs.

Food Banks Use in Ontario:

  • 499,415 people accessed food banks in Ontario between April 1st, 2016 and March 1st, 2017, with 33 per cent (or 166,703) being children
  • 90 per cent of food bank clients are either rental or social housing tenants
  • 68 per cent of clients cite social or income assistance as their primary source of income
  • Ontario Works provides individuals with $733 per month, Ontario Disability Support Program provides $1,169 per month. In a sample of ten cities, the average one-bedroom apartment would require between 70 to over 100 per cent of this monthly income.
  • 171,000 households are currently on Ontario’s affordable housing wait list, with 32 per cent being seniors. The wait time is approximately four years.
  • The Ontario Association of Food Banks recommends an immediate increase to Ontario’s current social assistance programs alongside investments in affordable housing

For more information, please contact:

Amanda King | Ontario Association of Food Banks | amanda@oafb.ca | 416-656-4100

November 23, 2018