September is Hunger Action Month in Ontario
Hunger Action Month is a time dedicated to bringing awareness and advocating for solutions to hunger and poverty. As part of this year’s campaign, we are highlighting the connect between living with a disability and living in poverty.
It might be surprising to learn that someone who is living with a disability is nearly three times more likely to live in poverty as those without a disability.
Its true that both federal and provincial governments provide support benefits for those who are unable to work. Unfortunately, many of these benefits fall far below what is needed for a basic standard of living.
As a result, many people living with disabilities are having to take drastic measures in trying to survive each month. For some, this means borrowing money in order to afford hydro and rent in the same month. Others are skipping meals because there is not enough money to afford groceries each week. Some are even rationing food by living on a potato a day.
Throughout Hunger Action Month and beyond, Feed Ontario is bringing awareness to this unacceptable standard of living. We are advocating to the provincial government for increases to the support provided through Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and you can help by using our simple email tool to send the same call to action to your own MPP.
Here is more on why this is so important.
Living with a disability can happen to anyone
Whether due to a genetic predisposition, an illness with lasting effects, or a catastrophic accident – disabilities can happen to anyone at any point in their lives. For many people, living with a disability can limit or entirely prevent them from working.
Social assistance is putting people living with a disability further behind
Over half a million Ontarians rely on the ODSP each month.
It’s true that the program originally helped to keep people with disabilities living above the poverty line. Unfortunately, decades of spending cuts or minimal increases in rates have meant that ODSP has not kept up with inflation. Not even close.
According to an open letter to provincial policy makers asking the government to double ODSP. Ontario has experienced 11% inflation since 2018 and frozen OSDP rates are leaving recipients living 40%-60% below the poverty line.
Imagine living on a potato a day
A recent news article reported that many ODSP recipients find themselves struggling to survive and have no choice but to live on what is referred to as the ODPS diet– a potato a day, or perhaps a cup of instant coffee to suppress your appetite.
A recent survey conducted by Feed Ontario showed that over 60% of respondents had less than $100 left each month after paying housing and utilities. That means thousands of people in Ontario are trying to make $100 stretch across all other living costs including transportation, medicine, and food.
Let’s take action!
People with disabilities are living significantly below the poverty line and our province is running the risk of heading towards a two-tiered food system.
Asking MPPs to double ODSP rates is just one way that food banks across Ontario are working to eliminate poverty and put food banks out of business.
Food banks will continue to provide emergency food and serve their communities. During Hunger Action Month, Feed Ontario and our network will continue advocating for true solutions to poverty.
No one needs a food bank, until they do.