Premier Doug Ford
Room 281–Legislative Building
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
7th Floor –438 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G 2K8
January 11, 2022
Dear Premier Ford and Minister Fullerton,
We are writing regarding the urgent need for you to recall the legislature and raise the income support rates for recipients of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW). Many recipients of these social assistance programs are living below the poverty line and are struggling to get by. A recent report by the Toronto Star estimates that the average Canadian family will pay an extra $966 for groceries in 2022. The cost of living such as rent, food, utilities and bills has gone up significantly while ODSP and OW rates have continued to stagnate and fall well below the cost of living.
In 2018 a meager 1.5% increase was introduced but as was pointed out at that time and continues to be an issue raised with your government, deep cuts made under the Mike Harris Conservative government and lack of action under successive Liberal governments has led to a life of even deeper poverty and declining living standards for people receiving social assistance. A 1.5% increase is not nearly enough to lift people with disabilities out of poverty and provide them with access to the stable, appropriate housing, food and medical supplies they may need.
While recipients of ODSP and OW have suffered for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need to significantly raise social assistance rates immediately. The additional costs for personal protective equipment is a cost many are unable to afford to keep themselves, their families andtheir communities safe. As you know, the ODSP rate is $1,169 for a single person. For example, in our communities, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Windsor is $1,190 and $1,500 in Ottawa. This is unacceptable.
Your government has said in the past that it would take care of those Ontarians who need help the most. It has been nearly four years with no substantial increases to social assistance. True leadership means ensuring no one in Ontario is left behind. Therefore, we are calling for the legislature to be immediately recalled –so we can work together and make the necessary investments for those who are being left behind in Ontario.
Thank you and we look forward to your prompt response to address the need to protect some of the most vulnerable Ontarians.
Lisa Gretzky MPP Windsor West
Critic for Community and Social Services
Joel Harden MPP Ottawa Centre
Critic for Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities