Campaign Against Cuts to Social Assistance

  • I am proud to support actions to convince the Ontario government to improve - not cut - social assistance programs. I have co-signed a letter (below) to the Minister of Children, Community and Social services asking them to:

  • reverse its plan to cut $1 billion from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works;

  • maintain the ODSP disability definition;

  • increase the social assistance rates; and

  • consult with relevant stakeholders as the government reviews social assistance programs.

If you want to support the campaign, please tweet to your local MPP:

Kanata—Carleton Hon. Merrilee Fullerton @DrFullertonMPP

Ottawa West—Nepean Jeremy Roberts @JR_Ottawa ‏

Nepean Hon Lisa Macleod @MacLeodLisa

Carleton Goldie Ghamari @gghamari

Ottawa Centre Joel Harden @JoelHardenONDP ‏

Ottawa South John Fraser @JohnFraserOS

Minister Todd Smith @ToddSmithPC

Premier Doug Ford @fordnation



October 28, 2019

The Honourable Todd Smith

Minister of Children, Community and Social Services

Ferguson Block, 77 Wellesley St W

Toronto, ON M7A 1N3

[email protected]

Dear Minister Smith:

Re: Ontario Government Plan to Restore Dignity, Independence and Empowerment to Social Assistance System

We are writing to request that your government reverse its plan to cut $1 billion from the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works. Specifically, we urge you to maintain the ODSP disability definition, increase the social assistance rates, and consult with relevant stakeholders as your government reviews our social assistance programs.

Your predecessor announced that the provincial government intends to amend the definition of a disability under ODSP and align it with federal guidelines. We fear this would disqualify many vulnerable Ontarians from ODSP, particularly those that live with mental health issues, addictions, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis C, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic migraines, and some forms of cancer.

The House of Commons HUMA Committee recently reported how the disability definition under the Canada Pension Plan Disability benefit, among other Federal benefits, often excludes persons who live with recurrent or episodic disabilities.1 Indeed, the Committee recommended that CPP-Disability’s severe and prolonged disability definition be “expanded to include episodic experiences.”2

Changing the ODSP disability definition as your government has proposed will plunge many persons with disabilities into further poverty. If enacted, those who do not qualify medically for ODSP will have to rely on Ontario Works. A single person on OW receives a meagre maximum benefit of $733 per month. Meanwhile, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Ottawa is $1,310.3 Most social assistance recipients in Ottawa do not live in social housing, as the wait time can exceed 10 years, and over 12,000 households are on the wait-list.4

Deepening poverty will result in further strain on our already over-burdened municipal services, such as social housing and rent supplement providers, and community resources, such as our shelters and our food banks. Income is an important social determinant of health. Receiving OW instead of ODSP can mean the difference between being able to pay rent or becoming homeless, affording groceries, or accessing medical treatment to assist one’s recovery and return to work.

Rates Should be Increased Annually and Align with Poverty Measures

We call on you to increase the ODSP and OW rates each year and align the rates with established poverty measures. OW and ODSP recipients live well below the poverty line. The poverty line for a family of four in Ottawa is $39,701.5 Yet, a family of this size on ODSP receives a maximum of $22,644 annually.6 On OW, a family of this size receives a maximum of $15,000.7

Your Ministry conducted comprehensive research in 2017 and recommended raising social assistance rates to a Minimum Income Standard to allow recipients to afford basic necessities. 8 We urge you to revisit that proposal.


Finally, as your Ministry looks to reform our province’s social assistance system, we ask that you engage in meaningful consultations with Ontario’s vulnerable populations, health-care providers, and community agencies.

The undersigned community partners and community members have valuable insights to share as you explore reform of our social assistance system. We request that you work together with us with the goal of maintaining the integrity of our social assistance programs and reducing poverty in Ontario.


Campaign Against Cuts to Social Assistance (Ottawa)

Action Logement

Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa

Alliance for Healthier Communities

Bethany Hope Centre

Canadian Mental Health Association Ottawa Branch

Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation

City for All Women Initiative (CAWI)

Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres

Community Legal Services of Ottawa / Services juridiques communautaires d’Ottawa

CUPE 503

CUPE Ontario

Dalhousie Food Cupboard

Debra Dynes Family House

EBO Financial Education Centre (EBO Centre) / Centre d’éducation financière (Centre


Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard

Gloucester Housing Corporation

Housing Help

Jewish Family Services of Ottawa

Louise Toone, Directrice/Director

Clinique juridique communautaire de l’Université d’Ottawa / University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic

Nelson House of Ottawa-Carleton

Nepean Housing Corporation

Ottawa ACORN

Ottawa and District Labour Council

Ottawa Community Food Partnership

The Ottawa Social Housing Network

Parkdale Food Centre

Refugee 613

St. Joe’s Supper Table

Councillor Mathieu Fleury

Councillor Jeff Leiper

Councillor Catherine McKenney

Councillor Shawn Menard

Councillor Theresa Kavanagh

MPP John Fraser

MPP Joel Harden

Aditya Rao

Amanda Glouchkow

Roberta Assoun

Brook Davies

Carine Lubamba

Christie Eyeoyibo, Pastor

Word Chapel Church

Dana Strauss

Donna Strauss

Eric Larock

Gemma Aguilar

Heather Lynn Farrow

Howard Strauss

Mandy Gibson

Marlene Rivier

Michael Shulman

Miles Krauter

Nadya St-Denis

Neelam Tandon

Nicole Mann

Praduman Singh Tandon

Quinton Nurse

Stella King Emmanuel

Sue Zelaya

Tali Cherniawsky

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Address: 110 Laurier Ave W, Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1