5 Ontario MPPs try ‘social assistance diet’ to highlight ‘paltry’ government support

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Ontario finance minister defends 5 per cent disability support payment boost
WATCH: Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy on Tuesday defended the boost of five per cent to the Ontario Disability Support Payment (ODSP) beginning September 2022, saying they made a commitment to address the payment. – Aug 9, 2022

Five Ontario members of provincial parliament are pledging to live on a “social assistance diet” for the next two weeks in an effort to highlight the “paltry” support payments given to people living with disabilities.

NDP MPPs Chandra Pasma, Monique Taylor, Lise Vaugeois, Jessica Bell and Joel Harden are planning to spend $95.21 on food over the next two weeks — in line with the average grocery budgets for those living on Ontario Disability Support Payments.

Last week, the Ford government increased ODSP rates by five per cent, following through on a mid-election promise that was designed to deflect criticism about the rising cost of living’s impact on those most marginalized in Ontario.

“We increased the ODSP rate to a historic five per cent and aligned it with inflation, because we know that high inflationary times are troublesome and make it that more difficult for people,” said Social Services minister Merrilee Fullerton during question period.

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The increase — which works out to an additional $58 per month — was criticized by the NDP as being “far too low” at a time when food prices continue to rise due to inflation.

“We’re in an affordability crisis: the cost of food was up 9.7 per cent in July, food banks are seeing record usage, and housing costs were up 7.4 per cent,” said Taylor. “An extra $58, if that, is a drop in the bucket.”

To drive home that point, the five NDP MPPs will spend just $47.60 per week for food – an amount the party said is the approximate weekly grocery allowance for people on social assistance.

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“Our hope is that this initiative puts pressure on the Ford government to do the right thing and double social assistance rates so that people can live dignified, healthy lives,” Harden said.

During question period at the Ontario Legislature, the NDP invited Premier Doug Ford to join the “social assistance diet” — a request that went ignored.

“We’ll always be there for the most vulnerable, always have been,” Ford claimed. “As the NDP and Liberals stood there and starved these people, we increased it by five per cent — the largest in a full decade.”

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