Ottawa/Queens Park




- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Ontario's PC government has given itself 100 days to revamp what they refer to as a "disjointed patchwork system" of social assistance in the province.
Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister responsible for women's issues called it an ambitious timeline in her announcement last week.
MPP Bill Walker says that people who rely on these funds, primarily Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) "cannot wait" for the broken system to be fixed, so the tight timeline is important.
While anti-poverty groups are calling the 1.5% increase a cut, Walker points out that they had no guarantee that the 3% increase and other changes were going to be delivered, even in the unlikely event that the Liberals had been returned to power. "The Liberal government over-promised in many areas for many years," Walker said.

Services provided to vulnerable people must also be able to attract and retain competent, qualified people he said, making reference to Liberal freezes to agencies like Community Living.

Ontario Works and ODSP were creations of the Harris government of 1995 to 2002. One of that government's first major policy actions was to cut social assistance rates by 21.6%, calling the programs a "disincentive for seeking employment".
When asked if he would be prepared to speak to the PC government's plans in 100 days, he said "Absolutely".


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