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TORONTO The McGuinty government has offered social assistance recipients a few lumps of coal instead of spreading some Christmas joy by moving forward with real reform to help low-income Ontarians move out of poverty, says Sid Ryan, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario division.

Ontario is one of the few provinces that still claws back the national child benefit from families receiving social assistance, Ryan said. If the Liberals truly wish to help poor families get a step up, they should let them keep that money. Just last week, the city of Hamilton took $100,000 from its national child benefit money to help local agencies meet the need for Christmas hampers, he noted. The Liberals talk a great line about dignity while people are forced to seek charity for their holiday celebrations.

End the clawback and commit to meaningful increases in both social assistance rates and the minimum wage those are the giant steps we need to make life better for low income Ontarians whether they are working or not, Ryan said. Put some money in their pockets so they can care for themselves and their families.

The decision to close intake screening units could be a good one, he added. CUPE municipal social service workers have been concerned that so much of their time is taken up with paperwork and duplication.

Let the caseworkers do the job of assessing peoples needs in terms of assistance and employment, he said. We will be watching carefully to ensure that the province does not move to replace the intake screening units with another unnecessary bureaucratic layer such as a centralized call centre for intake.

Ryan called for a task force with union representation to review the whole delivery system technology and rules. There is still much to be done to create a fair social assistance model that focuses on helping people and is not driven by technology, he said.


For more information, please contact:
Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, 416-209-0066 (cell)
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, 416-616-6142 (cell)