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McGuinty government needs to take real, immediate action on ‘Woefully Inadequate’ social assistance rates, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn says

TORONTO – In light of reports showing that Canada is becoming more and more polarized between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn is renewing his call for the McGuinty government to take meaningful action to address poverty.

The real issue here is that social assistance rates are woefully inadequate,” Hahn told a Queen’s Park media conference this morning.

The news conference was sponsored by Hamilton MPP Paul Miller on behalf of the Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits (CAWDB). Hahn and Miller were joined by Hamilton residents and CAWDB members Lauren Marela and Michelle Hrushka.

Earlier this week, the government announced it would not scrap the Special Diet Allowance, which provides a supplement for eligible recipients to buy nutritious food. Hahn said while that decision is “the right thing to do, we are very concerned that new eligibility requirements will make it far more difficult for people to qualify.”

New eligibility rules that could disqualify up to half the people currently receiving the supplement will simply make matters worse.

Our members who deliver social assistance and Ontario Disability Support Plan benefits know this and we will make sure others are aware, if the government chooses to proceed in this manner,” said Hahn.

He reiterated CUPE’s call for the government to act now to ensure all Ontarians have better access to nutritious meals, rather than waiting for the results of a program review.

If the government wants to undertake a comprehensive review, that cannot preclude them from doing something today. They should do the right thing, and move immediately to raise rates to pre-Harris levels, and index them to inflation,” he said.

For more information, contact:

Fred Hahn
President, CUPE Ontario

Kevin Wilson
CUPE Communications