With disability benefits, governments cannot get lost in complexity

Friday, May 31st, 2024

The purpose of the CDB is to protect people with disabilities from poverty. The application process should strive to make it easy to identify the people who need this protection… Developing this new benefit will no doubt raise difficult questions about definitions of disability, jurisdiction, and how different programs interact with each other… But they are not impossible. They are not an excuse for doing nothing.

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How government penny-pinching makes life harder for unhoused Ontarians

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

In Ontario, if you lose your home, you get less social assistance than someone who has a home. The government cuts your benefits in half. Why punish people when we can help them get back on their feet? If it’s simply about saving money, surely the government can find lots of other ways to do that without ruining people’s lives… Social assistance should help people, not make their lives even harder.

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The perverse logic of social assistance

Monday, March 4th, 2024

In Ontario, single adults who are unhoused… receive $343 per month for basic needs, and $0 for shelter. That works out to about $11 per day. No one can say with a straight face that $11 per day is a program designed to help people. How is it possible for someone to get by, let alone to get back on their feet, with so little? … It doesn’t function to bolster their well-being, or stop them from falling further into poverty. Instead, it responds to a person who has lost their home by making their life even harder.

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The Canada Disability Benefit Act is progress worth celebrating

Monday, July 31st, 2023

First, it is a measure to prevent poverty that is protected by law. It adds to our system of legal protections, which include laws such as the National Housing Strategy Act (2019) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005). These laws are important symbolically, as they codify our society’s commitment to uphold our economic and social rights. They are also important practically, as they require governments to set out rules about how they will put that commitment into action.

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Why we need to care about single adults living in poverty

Friday, July 1st, 2022

… single adults made up more than 60 per cent of OW cases and nearly 80 per cent of ODSP cases in 2021. Together, they equal the population of Ontario’s fastest growing city… The social assistance system was intended to be an emergency system – a last resort when all else failed. Well, all else is failing. Our other social systems are not preventing single adults from living in poverty. Rather, these systems are pushing people into poverty and holding them there… our social safety net is a relic of another era, as is our notion of who needs it.

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We can’t simply build our way out of our housing crisis

Friday, April 29th, 2022

More new housing will help if it’s the kind of housing that is currently lacking, built for the people who need it most. Various studies indicate that 40 to 50 per cent of people in Canada are living paycheque-to-paycheque. That is, nearly half the population of this prosperous country are income insecure. Plans for new housing must prioritize these people.

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Spending big money is responsible – when it protects our human rights

Friday, April 30th, 2021

In extraordinary times such as these, it is important to put the dignity of people first, even if the government has to shoulder the fiscal burden on our behalf… our primary concern should not be about how much will be spent, but rather about how that spending will support a dignified life for each person and community it serves. Not, how much does it cost? But rather, what will we get for it?… It is the government’s duty to spend – and spend big – to support our economic and social rights.

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‘Poverty’ is a problem for democracy – focusing on rights can help

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

While poverty is experienced by individuals, it is created by systems that fail to protect their rights to a decent standard of living. Supporting individuals and families is certainly necessary. But alone, it will not eliminate poverty. To make real progress towards eliminating poverty, we need systems that support people in realizing their economic and social rights.

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Putting economic and social rights at the heart of policy-making

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Too many people are currently being left behind as changing social, economic, and political tides wash past them… To stymie the rise in polarized and populist rhetoric, we must… strengthen… how we think about, and develop, public policy. We can do this by prioritizing the human rights and dignities of all Canadians. Not only civil and political rights, but economic and social rights, too.

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A call for Canadian charities to become politically active

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Apr 21 2012
Even among those charities that have an interest in public policy, there is a reluctance to engage, and few play anywhere close to the 10 per cent level… Since governments have shed much of their policy capacity in the last few decades, they need good ideas from outside, and particularly from those working close to the coal face of society’s problems… Many charities who weren’t aware of the 10 per cent rule can now gear up to add a public policy dimension to their work, to begin to get a grip on one of the biggest levers of change for the better.

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