Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey did the math and says Ontario should do more for people on social assistance.
Bailey is one of 18 MPPs who filled out a “Do The Math” survey for the Social Planning Network of Ontario — a group asking the government to give more money to people on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program benefits.
MPPs estimated their own basic living expenses and came up with an average of $1,314 a month — $729 more than a single person receives from Ontario Works.
Bailey, who estimated $987 a month, said, “Something’s got to give.”
The network’s Put Food in the Budget campaign wants Ontario to pay a $100 monthly healthy food supplement to every adult on social assistance.
“I know with the deficit it can’t happen overnight but we certainly have to do something,” Bailey said.
He added he also supports Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett’s private member’s bill that would allow people receiving disability support benefits to keep more of the money they earn working.
Social assistance clients make up about 30% of the 1,800 people visiting the Inn of the Good Shepherd food bank each month, according to executive director Myles Vanni.
“The assistance amounts are well below what you really need to survive,” he said.
Bailey, a Tory, said the Liberal government hasn’t acted on the campaign’s call because the poor don’t have a voice at Queen’s Park.
“They don’t have high-paid consultants or lobbyists to work for them, like all the other groups.”
He added he finds it “disheartening” a government that wasted “billions” in the E-Health and Ontario Lottery Corporation scandals won’t do more to help people on social assistance.
“We’re talking minimal amounts of money to help people who are the most vulnerable.”
Mike Balkwill, co-ordinator of Put Food in the Budget, said Ontario’s government doesn’t see “any political advantage” to helping the poor, even though studies show that can lower health care and other costs over the long-term.
“As many other people have said, the poor are ignored in good times and forgotten in bad times,” he said. “So, we just have to raise the political price for them.”
The NDP gets it. The conservatives, at least one conservative MPP–just not the one for Pembroke and area, gets it. When can we expect the governing liberal party to get it? And when can we have that conversation I’ve been talking about? I feel another open letter coming on.