March 14, 2020
The Honourable Todd Smith
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
7th Floor, 438 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8
Dear Minister Smith,
I am writing to you today with an urgent request, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontarians
receiving social assistance through the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works are
particularly vulnerable at this time, and will undoubtedly face serious challenges in accessing resources
and supports. In order for everyone in Ontario to be able to safeguard themselves and others, we need
to be assured that your government has a plan to assist everyone – including vulnerable people.
As you know, social assistance recipients are living in poverty. The majority have disabilities or are
working poor. Much of the common advice for mitigating risk during this pandemic will not apply in
the same way to Ontarians relying on social assistance. Staying at home if you are sick is not an option
for those who rely on homeless shelters. Self-isolating is not possible for those who need food banks or
soup kitchens in order to survive, and stocking up on groceries is impossible for seniors on fixed
incomes or families who live paycheque to paycheque. Even frequent hand washing and sanitizing is
not an easy task for those who cannot afford or do not have access to these supplies. This is a common
problem for anyone living in poverty, as they are consistently forced to make difficult choices in order
to survive with the incredibly limited resources they have.
Ontarians need to know that you and your government are taking this issue seriously. People with
disabilities, seniors and the working poor are most at risk during this uncertain time, as are the
community partners and agencies that help support them - you need to act quickly. What is your plan
to ensure that people receiving ODSP and OW, the working poor and seniors will not be left behind
or exposed to even greater risk because they cannot afford to protect themselves? We need your
urgent action now.
I look forward to your prompt response.
Lisa Gretzky, MPP