NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West), critic for Social Services, and MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), are vehemently urging the provincial government to do more to address worsening circumstances for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) recipients, following an increase in distressing correspondence from constituents.
“The vast majority of Ontarians receiving social assistance in the form of ODSP and OW live in poverty, and are particularly vulnerable," said Lindo. "Our offices are consistently inundated with correspondence from ODSP and OW recipients who are at the end of their rope, expressing suicidal thoughts or feelings and worsening mental health, and are desperately seeking assistance."
The Ford government has made it increasingly difficult for people receiving social assistance to access additional help, putting up roadblocks that prevent people from fully benefiting from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Employment Insurance payments, and over-complicating the processes for monthly-top-up payments. The Ford government has also failed to address the underlying issue that current ODSP and OW rates were already too low for anyone to live on.
"The pandemic has both escalated and highlighted many of the difficulties these Ontarians face in their daily lives, including food insecurity, chronic illness, precarious and unsafe housing and mental health challenges," said Gretzky. "We're now months into the pandemic, and the Ford government still has not stepped up to help the people who need it most."
The NDP continues to push for measures that would improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and vulnerable families who rely on social assistance, both during the pandemic and beyond. MPPs have called for raised social assistance rates, an increase to pandemic top-ups to $300 per month, and for eligible applicants to fully access CERB payments without clawbacks.