Over the past year, we’ve seen an unprecedented increase in food bank use in Ontario, with 38% more people relying on our services than the year before.
This is both unjust and unsustainable, and the failure to address underlying issues is starting to normalize hunger and poverty in our province. Food banks are designed to be an emergency service, and cannot continue to absorb these increases indefinitely.
We need good public policy changes to reduce the need for food banks.
If you used our Fork in the Road interactive tool, you went on a journey with one of four characters – Dan, Bessy, Angela, or Charlie – and learned about the structural forces that trap many Ontarians in poverty.
In our 2024 Pre-Budget Submission, we recommend specific actions the Government of Ontario can take that could help people who are experiencing similar challenges, including:
Protect workers like Dan
As a precarious worker, Dan does not have dental benefits to help cover unexpected expenses or paid sick days when he comes down with the flu. If he experiences wage theft from his employer, it will be difficult for him to receive justice, especially as he has no union to turn to for help.
While Employment Insurance-Sickness (EI-Sickness) provides Dan with a little support when he can't work due to an accident, his friends who are gig workers aren’t eligible for these kinds of standard worker benefits.
Ontario can protect workers like Dan and his friends by reducing wage theft, reducing barriers to unionization, and classifying gig workers as employees.
Build housing for seniors like Bessy
Even though Bessy worked her whole life, the government pensions she is eligible for just aren’t enough for today’s rental prices. Social (or rent-geared-to-income) housing would mean her housing stays at 30% of her income so she could afford her groceries. Unfortunately, Ontario has fallen far behind on building social housing over the last 30 years, so waitlists are can be up to 14 years long.
Ontario can make life more affordable for low-income people and seniors like Bessy by making investments in social housing.
Increase social assistance for people like Angela and Charlie
Angela relies on Ontario Works (OW) while she tries find steady work, improve her health, and to rebuild her life. However, OW only provides her $733 per month – this is far below the poverty line and has been frozen since 2018 despite the rising cost of living.
While Charlie receives more through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), $1,308 per month is still far below what he needs to survive.
Ontario can help people like Angela and Charlie by increasing social assistance rates to align with the cost of living so that they can live stable, dignified lives and move out of poverty.
Reduce clawbacks for people like Charlie and Angela
Charlie is eligible to receive money from Canada Pension Plan-Disability (CPP-D) thanks to his years of paying into the system. This income would really improve his financial situation – except ODSP claws back 100% of what he receives from CPP-D, so he is no better off than he was before.
Angela finds jobs when her health allows, but after she earns more than $200 in a month, OW claws back her payments by 50 cents for every dollar she earns, making it hard to get ahead. At times, employers offer her more hours during busy seasons, but she is hesitant to accept, as the clawbacks mean that she could easily not qualify for OW anymore, and would lose access to health benefits and supports through the program.
Ontario can help people like Charlie and Angela by reducing clawbacks on government benefits and employment income.
Send an email
Join us in calling on the Government of Ontario to take immediate action on poverty reduction.
You can write your own letter or personalize the one below.