TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 17, 2012) - Premier Dalton McGuinty made poverty worse in Ontario, said community activists today as they hosted rallies and marches against the Liberal government's decision to cut Community Start Up funds that help people move into better housing.
The surprise resignation of Premier Dalton McGuinty comes as an all-party commission on social assistance reform was set to release its report, on Friday, Oct. 19. The release date has been postponed.
"Making poverty worse and still cutting benefits as he leaves office is a sad legacy for Dalton McGuinty to leave behind," said John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). "Across Ontario, communities are acting to challenge the Liberals' plan to eliminate the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit. At stake is the only foothold available to tens of thousands each month in their struggle to avoid homelessness."
About 16,000 people access the benefit every month in Ontario. It is one of the only ways that people on Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program can cover the costs of moving or obtain the basic items they need to maintain a home. It is a defence against homelessness and gives many women the resources they need to be able to leave situations of domestic violence.
October 17th is a busy day on the anti-poverty calendar, with events happening across Toronto, and around the world on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Community group Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty is hosting a demonstration against poverty to mark the UN day. And the groups behind the campaign to "Put Food in the Budget" are collecting petitions to deliver to politicians.
"The Liberal government is facing a groundswell of opposition to their plans to cut these benefits, and McGuinty stepping down will not change this," said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee. "The Liberals are considering a new, long-term plan for social assistance. But people living in poverty need higher rates and other support today, not years down the road."
There's a growing consensus amongst anti-poverty groups, social workers and labour unions from the public and private sectors that the Liberals need to stop making poverty worse in Ontario. The Liberal government's 2012 budget brought a number of regressive cuts to social assistance, including the Community Start Up, slated for elimination in 2013. Today's march and rally is part of a provincial movement to stop the cut.