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Restoring Special Diet Allowance “the right thing to do;” McGuinty Government needs to do far more to fight poverty, says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn

Faced with staggeringly high increases in food bank usage, the McGuinty Liberals made the right decision by reinstating the Special Diet Allowance, the president of CUPE Ontario said today.

Food banks in Ontario have been seeing double-digit increases in usage for the past two years, so ending the allowance was a bad idea from the start. While the government does deserve credit for admitting to their mistake, retaining the Special Diet Allowance in itself is simply not sufficient to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens have the resources they need for healthy food and shelter,” said Hahn.

The government announced yesterday that it would keep the supplement, which can provide up to an extra $250.00 to social assistance recipients. The average monthly amount of social assistance for a single person is $585.00 a month, and that doesn’t change while awaiting the recommendations of a program review that will cost $3.5 million.

More than 850,000 men, women and children live on some form of social assistance in Ontario. A fraction of them—about 140,000—received the Special Diet Allowance.

It’s time for real action on poverty. We’ve been arguing for some time that concrete action by governments to address poverty is one of the best tools for economic development available. Ontario would only benefit—socially and economically—if Dalton McGuinty would just pick it up and start using it,” said Hahn.

“While statistics show that corporate tax cuts wind up invested outside of Ontario, money put in the hands of social assistance recipients gets spent in their communities. That’s why we join many others calling on government to immediately increase social assistance rates and index them to inflation,” he added.

Through its own campaigns, and alongside other anti-poverty and social justice advocates, CUPE Ontario will continue to push the government to show more fairness.

Hahn urged others to get involved and draw attention to the importance of nutritious food for some of Ontario’s most poor and vulnerable.

Campaigns like the Do the Math Challenge, where hundreds of Ontarians tried to live for a week from the contents of a food bank hamper, have had a huge impact on this debate because it puts the issue in real terms people understand,” said Hahn.

For more information, please contact:

Fred Hahn
President, CUPE Ontario

Kevin Wilson
CUPE Communications