QUEEN’S PARK – Rima Berns-McGown, the NDP’s critic for Poverty and Homelessness, called on Doug Ford to raise ODSP and OW rates that have remained frozen during his four years in government, despite increasing costs and hardship during the pandemic.
“We have watched homelessness soar. We have seen food and housing costs rise through the roof, exacerbated by two years of a pandemic,” said Berns-McGown during question period on Wednesday. “I know, because I have been on the street and in encampments speaking to housing workers and unhoused Ontarians, that a great many of the newly unhoused people live with a disability.”
One of Doug Ford’s very first acts in 2018 was to slash a much-needed raise to ODSP and OW rates in half. In four years, the Ford government never raised them. The Daily Bread food bank reports that food bank use rose by 53 per cent from 2014 to 2020, much of that driven by insufficient disability support.
“This is on the Ford government’s shoulders. When is the government going to raise social assistance rates and ensure that people living with a disability can afford to live?” asked Berns-McGown.
“People are literally dying of hypothermia on the streets in one of the richest cities in the world. Skyrocketing rents mean that working people as well as people living with a disability are being forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads and eating. Often, they lose that roof over their heads. Many are Black, Indigenous, or racialized people. Many live with a disability.”
Berns-McGown said food banks are not a long-term solution and presented ways the government could help people on social assistance today.
“Livable social assistance supports are a solution. A livable $20 minimum wage is a solution. Rent control and fixing the financialization of housing that lies beneath the renovictions and constant rent hikes – those are solutions,” said Berns-McGown.
“This government must ensure that all Ontarians can stay housed and afford to eat.”