Putting a spotlight on poverty

United Way of Bruce Grey and the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force wants to put a spotlight on poverty in our community.

Basic needs are increasingly out of reach for people living on low-income, and people with insufficient income face impossible choices every single day. For people living with disabilities, further barriers related to employment, social exclusion, and higher cost of living make it even more difficult to thrive without comprehensive supports.

After the 1.5% rate increase in October 2018, a single person receiving Ontario Works will still be 65% below the poverty line receiving only: $ 732/month.

On average,1 949 households per month access Ontario Works in Grey County and Bruce County in 2018.

July 2018 profiles:

Of the July case load:

  • 1148 clients, or 62% were single,
  • 595 clients, or 31%, were sole supporting parents
  • Balance were dual parent families or couples with no children.

ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) has a caseload of 6855 households in Grey Bruce. A single person on ODSP is 55% below the poverty line receiving $1 151.

Ontario’s low income cut-off puts the poverty line at $2 080 for a single person.

The lonely girl cries in the street

Any increases to Ontario Works caseloads are attributed to positive changes in regulations around income supports such as child support no longer being considered income, increase asset limits which allow people to keep more of their earned income and savings as well as the eligibility requirements for youth 16 and 17 living on their own.

Transitioning people out of poverty and to a life of sustainability requires many supports. Access to transportation, childcare that is affordable and fits the schedule of the jobs available.

We also need to ensure that the right supports are there for the right demographic of people needing supports. With 62% of recipients being singles, we need to ensure there are supports beyond those just focused on children and families.

The United Way of Bruce Grey and the Poverty Task Force look forward to working with the new Provincial government on addressing rural poverty needs.

Microsoft PowerPoint - PTF Election Graphics_4August2018

 

For more information:

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Income Security: A Roadmap for Change

Income Security: A Roadmap for Change Report was released on 2 November 2017.  The government held a public  consultation and they intend to release an “Income Security Strategy for Ontario” early in 2018, using the Roadmap as a guide.  All levels of government including the Federal government are involved in the development of this 10 year plan along with 3 working groups: Income Security Reform Working Group, First Nations Income Security Reform Working Group and Urban Indigenous Table on Income Security Reform.

Why this matters – the problem

The income security system was designed for the workforce of the past, where many people had long-term, well-paying jobs. Today, low-paying, part-time jobs of short duration are much more common. Many people have long-standing barriers to work and social inclusion due to:  intergenerational poverty, history of colonialism, mental health and addition issues.  More people turn to social assistance as a “first resort” despite the limitations of these programs.

Why this matters – the human toll 

Essential needs are increasingly out of reach for many people. It’s harder for people to climb out of poverty. More people have disabilities, are facing barriers to employment, social inclusion and higher costs of living. Poverty and low-income are negatively impacting people’s health and well-being.  Systemic racism and discrimination are contributing to entrenched inequity.

In 2008, it was estimated that poverty costs $32 to $38 billlion-a-year in Ontario. Around $2,300-a-year for every household in Ontario.

Why is this report important? 

This is the first report in 30 years that recommends major investments in and improvements to programs that affect the lives of people on low-income in Ontario. It reflects a fundamentally different approach to supports and services that puts people – and their needs and rights – at the centre of the system, with a recognition that social and economic inclusion, and not just getting a job, should be the goal.

It not only recommends increasing the amount, quality and kind of benefits and services that low-income people receive, but also is transforming the vision for the income security system, the principles behind the provision of programs and services, and changes the goals to a rights-based, equity approach and recognizes the realities of different groups who live in poverty and/or experience poverty.

The Roadmap recommends a new vision:

All individuals are treated with respect and dignity and are inspired and equipped to reach their full potential. People have equitable access to a comprehensive and accountable system of income and in-kind support that provides an adequate level of financial assistance and promotes economic and social inclusion, with particular attention to the needs and experience of Indigenous peoples (pg 69).

To achieve the new vision, the Report recommends changes in 5 key areas:

  • Making a commitment to income adequacy
  • Improving the broader income security system
  • Transforming the social assistance system, including a First Nations-based approach
  • Providing immediate help to those in deepest poverty
  • Respecting First Nations jurisdiction and ensuring adequate funding

The Roadmap reflect years of advocacy for change to Ontario’s income security system.  It is a tool that we can  use to ensure greater investments are made in the Provincial budget. We need to ensure that all candidates in upcoming elections are made aware of the Roadmap and support the transformation of Ontario’s income security system.

At our recent Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force meeting we shared a background summary of the recommendations prepared by the Income Security Advocacy Centre along with the link to a Webinar by Income Security Advocacy Centre .  An Income Security Roadmap Presentation – Nov 17  prepared by Anna Cain, Director of Ontario Works Branch, MCSS highlighted the recommended changes and was the basis along with the full Report of our discussion.

Basic Income Pilot Consultations

The Ontario government is launching a pilot project to study how giving people a basic income might reduce poverty and improve health, housing and employment outcomes in Ontario.

The Ontario government released a Discussion Paper by Honourable Hugh Segal in June 2016 entitled Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income. The Ontario government has been holding public consultations, online surveys and welcomed feedback from the public and professionals working in social services.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force have provided input on the Pilot at various consultations:

  • Members of the Poverty Task Force and Community Voices participated in the Hamilton Consultation hosted by the Ontario government on November 22nd, 2016.
  • Members of the Poverty Task Force participated in the OMSSA consultation.
  • Members of the Poverty Task Force, its Action Groups and Community Voices held their own stakeholder consultation on January 13th 2017. The Poverty Task Force has submitted the summary of this discussion as an Official Submission to the Ontario government.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force works with over 34 agencies, networks and key community stakeholders in Bruce and Grey Counties – to enhance our common understanding of poverty-related issues through solution-based research, knowledge development and information sharing. We are informed by diverse voices of experience and support poverty reduction local action through our action groups and Community Voices.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force supports the government’s initiative to investigate a Basic Income Guarantee as a strategy for reducing poverty and income insecurity.

The Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force (Poverty Task Force) envisions the revitalization of our rural communities where people are empowered to reach their goals, are able to afford to participate in our community, where a more robust economic development and local investment will reverse the rise of precarious work, loss of benefits to families and out-migration of youth/young families in our communities.

The Poverty Task Force recognizes the Basic Income Pilot as one component of a poverty reduction strategy but we recommend that the government continue to invest in new job opportunities, reduce precarious work and ensure sufficient income wages/benefits. We recognize that the government can’t afford to provide all income supports and that we will need the private sector paying a living income. We need to move away from “maintaining poverty”.

The Poverty Task Force believes that the stigmatization of people on social assistances needs to stop. Providing people with more resources and the choice in how they spend their money will provide a sense of community by leveling the playing field.

We advise the government to continue to build broad public support in the media and our rural communities for the Basic Income Pilot. The Pilot needs to be a concept easy enough to understand by all people. The government needs to build trust with those people who would transition from Ontario Works/ Ontario Disability Support Program to the Pilot and identify champions for the Pilot from middle-class/wealthy economic levels that will support the Pilot over the next 3 years.

QUICK FACTS:

20% of families in Owen Sound-Georgian Bluffs and 41% of lone-parent families earn a median income of only $15,590 – half of Statistic Canada’s Low Income Cut-off for a family of 4. (Stats Can)

Over the past 3 years, food bank usage across Grey and Bruce Counties has increased by 92%, compared to the Canadian average of 26% since 2008. (United Way Bruce Grey Hunger Report 2015)

55.3% of those seeking housing assistance in Bruce County are at risk of being homeless. (Bruce County Long Term Housing Strategy, 2013-23)

1 in 6 children under age 18 live in poverty in Ontario. That is 18.8% of children under the age of 18 living in poverty (LIM-AT) (Stats Can, July 2016)

1 in 5 children under 6 live in poverty in Ontario. (Stats Can, July 2016)

1 in 7 families with children live in poverty in Ontario. Poverty rates differ greatly amongst different types of families. Among couples with children, 9.2% live in poverty, while the rate of lone parent families living in poverty is at 30.4%. This stark difference can be partially attributed to the gender pay wage gap in Ontario. (CANSIM 111-0011 Family characteristics, by family type, family composition and characteristics of parents, annual CANSIM)

LEARN MORE:
For more details of the Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force discussion see the full Official Submission from the January 13th meeting –  Poverty Task Force submission on Basic Income Pilot

To inform stakeholders and help guide the discussion, the Ontario government published the Discussion Paper Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income Pilot Ontario.

The Ontario government opened a Public Survey to explore new ways to deliver income support across the province.

The Ontario government held a series of in-person consultations across Ontario and has summarized the feedback on its website.

For more information, contact:
Jill Umbach
Bruce Grey Poverty Task Force (BGPTF)
Tel: 519-377-9406
Email: jill.umbach@gmail.com

Francesca Dobbyn,
United Way of Bruce Grey
519 376 1560
execdir@unitedwaybg.com

Basic Income Pilot Consultations

he members of the Income Security Action Group are encouraging all members of the Poverty Task Force to visit the Basic Income Pilot Consultation page of the Ontario Government.

In June 2016,  the Honourable Hugh Segal prepared a discussion paper, Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income Pilot for Ontario, which the governmnet is using as the starting point for this consultation.  There is a full report and an executive summary available.

Providing a Basic Income can help:

  • lift more people out of poverty
  • simplify the income security system
  • improve people’s health, empower people to get jobs and help people afford housing
  • give people more certainty and empower them to actively participate in the economy
Use this  basic-income-pilot-consultation_flyer_2016 to circulate to colleagues and people in the community to complete 2 surveys.
Most recently, members of the Income Security Action Group and Community Voices attended the Hamilton Consultation on the Pilot.  Read the basic-income-pilot-consultations_hamilton-summary from that meeting as prepared by the government.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!