Stop the Special Diet Cut – Raise Welfare/ODSP Rates Now!

Nancy MacBainNews, Political Action

Meal, Rally & Action
Wed. July 21st at noon
Ministry of Community & Social Services, 900 Bay St (at Wellesley)

There will be a bus leaving from Hamilton
Meeting at Gore Park (James St & King)
Leaving 10:30am – Returning around 3:30pm

On June 26th the G20 met in Toronto with the government spending over $1 billion on the summit. This money funded the militarization of our city, security fees, promotional stunts involving a fake lake, lavish dinners and hotels for world leaders and their entourages. That weekend, in response to the G20 meeting, tens of thousands of people demonstrated on the streets of Toronto despite police violence and extreme intimidation. We know all too well that these attempts to criminalize and brutalize will continue in the daily violence that poor communities, people of colour, and First Nations communities face.

On June 25th – 27th, we demonstrated not just against the cost of hosting the G20 meetings in our city – but against the plans and decisions that were being made behind the security perimeter inside that armed camp. We protested because we know that the policies of the G20 affect poor people every day: decisions to fund security and prisons instead of schools and community centres, decisions to cut public services, childcare and welfare at the same time as giving huge tax breaks to corporations and banks. Decisions that serve the interests of wealth at our expense.

The $1.2 billion dollars wasted on the G20 summit in Toronto could have:

  • Funded the Special Diet Allowance for OVER 5 YEARS
  • Housed everyone who is currently homeless in Toronto (10 000 people) PLUS
  • everyone on the waiting list for social housing (70 000) for OVER A YEAR!

When governments choose to spend money on a weekend of meetings and policing instead of housing and social services – it sends a message loud and clear of what their priorities are. At the Toronto meeting, G20 leaders agreed to cut deficits in half by 2013. They have called for ‘austerity measures’, which is code for massive cutbacks. This agreement is going to mean a major attack on our communities in the way of huge social cutbacks, criminalization, and more. In Ontario, austerity measures have already begun – a key example of this is the McGuinty Liberals’ decision to cut the Special Diet Allowance in the name of ‘reducing the deficit’ in this year’s Provincial budget. This government chose to cut a food benefit for people who live on shamefully inadequate welfare (OW) and disability (ODSP) rates – rates that were cut by Harris in 1995 and have never been restored. People today are forced to try to survive on welfare rates that are 55% below what they should be!

What the Special Diet cut means:

  • Poor people lose $200 million for food: the entire Social Assistance program will be cut by 3%
  • Single people on OW getting the full Special Diet lose 30% of their income, on ODSP, its 19%
  • Dalton McGunity has cut welfare for only the 3rd time in Ontario’s history
  • We will see a rapid increase in homelessness, hunger, illness, and desperation
  • At the same time, corporations have been given a $4.6 billion dollar tax break over the next 3 years!

These are the G20 policies at work in our Province. The time to negotiate with the Liberal Government has come to an end, the time to challenge them is now. We need to keep our Special Diets, and we need to force a raise in welfare and disability rates now so that people can live with health and dignity.

G20 leaders, the Federal Tories, and the Provincial Liberals think that they can offload deficits on to poor people by cutting funding to programs that we need and gutting the public sector. They are trying to force us to pay for a crisis we didn’t create. In the same way that we came together on June 25th – 27th, we can and must do it again as the government begins to implement austerity measures on the local level. We have to resist them every step of the way; when they say cutback – we say FIGHT BACK!