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16,000 dollars to 49,000 dollars pay raises for Ontario Liberal caucus. Surely social assistance rates will also rise?

TORONTO, Ont.– On Remembrance Day the Ontario Liberal government quietly announced pay raises of between 16,000 dollars and 49,000 dollars for 29 MPP who will become parliamentary assistants to a slimmed down Ontario cabinet of just 22 members.

By this bold signal that the austerity agenda stops at Ontario’s borders, the Liberal caucus sends a message of hope to the poorest in Ontario,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/ Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “These increases of between 14 per cent and 42 per cent would make such an enormous difference if they were also applied to people receiving social assistance and disability benefits.”

The 29 parliamentary assistants will receive an additional 16,667 dollars on top of an MPP’s salary of 116,000 dollars. The whip will receive an additional 21,000 dollars and cabinet members an additional 49,000 dollars, also on a base salary of 116,000 dollars. Only 1 of 53 Liberal MPPs will not receive a substantial increase, making this an unprecedented announcement in its scope. Effectively, 98 per cent of the Liberal caucus has been reclassified and given a pay raise.

“People on social assistance cannot remember the time they last ate until they were full. The health of tens of thousands of children is being seriously compromised through ongoing malnourishment. It is time to raise the rates of assistance and disability,” Hurley said.

Social assistance paid a single person 663 dollars a month in 1994. In December 2011 it will pay 599 dollars. With a room in a major Ontario city costing 400 dollars a month, single social assistance recipients have 6 dollars and 60 cents a day for all necessities of life. 474,000 women, children and men receive Ontario Works benefits and 397,000 receive Ontario disability benefits.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Hurley                    
President, OCHU/CUPE               
(416) 884-0770

Stella Yeadon                      
CUPE Communications               
(416) 559-9300