Toronto protests social assistance cuts

The Raise the Rates coalition will hold a clinic and rally in David Pecaut Square 11 a.m. on Wednesday, August 17, in response to provincial cuts to vital housing support programs.

"The Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit helped people on social assistance get and retain housing. The province turned their back on people on social assistance when they cut the program in 2012," says Liisa Schofield of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). "Instead of fixing the mistakes of past Conservative governments, the Liberals have been making them worse."

As a stop-gap, a patchwork of programs were created including the Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) in Toronto. By the city's own admission, it has been inaccessible to many who need it because the city has failed to tell people how they can receive the benefit, and because the eligibility criteria have been too strict.

In response, the Raise the Rates campaign will hold a clinic and mass-signup. The clinic will include a meal and rally to demand the restoration of CSUMB and a raise in social assistance rates.

"NOW Magazine shortlisted Raise the Rates in their annual awards because poverty is an urgent and growing issue in Ontario, and our concerns are only becoming more valid as the Liberals let things get worse and worse," says Carrie-Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of CUPE Ontario's Social Services Workers Coordinating Committee. "Instead of pulling $150 million from Toronto's housing budget, the province should be restoring programs like the CSUMB and special diet allowance, raising the minimum wage and taking poverty seriously." 


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