Join the Raise the Rates Campaign TODAY!
OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union) Joins on to the Raise the Rates Campaign!
The Raise the Rates Campaign represents a broad and growing consensus amongst community groups, unions and anti-poverty activists about social assistance in this province. Together we reject attempts to divide poor people on assistance between those on Ontario Works and those on Ontario Disability Support Program. We are united in this fight and building alliances with all those living in poverty, people working low-wage precarious jobs, and unionized workers.
1) Reverse the Cuts, Raise the Rates!
In 1995 the Tory government cut welfare rates by 21.6 % and froze disability. Since the Liberals came to power in 2003, they have not only failed to reverse the Harris cuts, but have actually perpetuated a further decline in rates. As a result of that initial 21.6% cut coupled with inflation for the last 16 years, welfare rates are approximately 55% below where they should be. If benefit levels were restored to the same level of spending power as we had in 1994, a single person on Ontario Works would receive an immediate $936/month instead of the miserable $606 now being issued. No one can survive on these poverty rates; $606 cannot afford someone a place to live let alone food and basic needs.
The Liberal government has frozen the minimum wage for last three years. Workers trying to survive on minimum wage are already making poverty wages that continue to lose their spending power as a result of inflation. Currently there are approximately 1 in 6 workers or working at or close to minimum wage in Ontario, and the gap between minimum wage and welfare is greater now than it ever has been.
WE DEMAND an immediate increase in OW and ODSP rates to bring them back to pre- Harris levels. 55% NOW– raise the rates to where people can live with health and dignity!
WE DEMAND the minimum wage freeze be lifted immediately and that minimum wage be increased to $14 for everyone in Ontario.
2) Restore Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit and the Special Diet Allowance!
The Liberals have cut two vital benefits that poor people need to survive. The Special Diet put healthy food on the table and the CSUMB kept a roof over people’s heads. We demand that these benefits be restored immediately.
In the 2012 Provincial budget, the Liberal government targeted the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) for elimination by January 2013 and downloaded the responsibility of a housing fund to municipalities. This vital benefit allows people to get housed (first and last months rent, moving costs etc), pay for the basic essentials to set up a home (furniture, pots and pans), or recover from an emergency or crisis (the need to move for ones personal safety, or to pay for lost items due to a fire or bed bugs outbreak).
The Special Diet Allowance has been another vital benefit that has put money in the pockets of communities forced to live in poverty on social assistance rates that are entirely inadequate. The Liberals have been slowly chipping away at the Special Diet Allowance for the past 7 years making it harder and harder for people to qualify. The most recent proposal would see this benefit gone once and for all to ‘offset the cost’ of raising the base level of Ontario Works for singles by $100. The estimated cost of this cut in money would be: $240 million.
The loss of the full Special Diet Allowance and the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit alongside declining social assistance rates will drive communities deeper into poverty, poor health and will increase homelessness.
WE DEMAND the full restoration of the Special Diet to a benefit of up to $250 for food and complete reversal of all intrusive measures AND the full restoration of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit as a provincially run program.
The Movement is growing: Join the Raise the Rates Campaign!
To get involved and to endorse the Raise the Rates Campaign, please visit: www.ocap.ca/rtr
CUPE Ontario Raise the Rates Campaign: www.cupe.on.ca/raisetherates
On Facebook, join the Raise the Rates page: https://www.facebook.com/RaiseTheRates
Or contact us at: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
157 Carlton St, Unit 206, Toronto, ON M5A 2K3
Twitter: @OCAPtoronto #RaisetheRates
We are contacting you about the ‘Raise the Rates’ Campaign and a call for community organizations, union locals, community health centres, social agencies, drop-ins and beyond to join the campaign and be a part of building a provincial movement to raise social assistance rates to where people can live with health and dignity.
What you can do to join this campaign:
1) Endorse the Raise the Rates Campaign: Take this to your organization and officially sign-on to the Raise the Rates Campaign! Contact us to add your name as an endorsing organization: firstname.lastname@example.org / 416-925-6939.
2) Join the Movement:
• Invite OCAP and the Raise the Rates Committee to come speak to your organization, union local or centre
• Start a Raise the Rates committee in your area: let’s build this work beyond the next demonstration and in to a movement that is unstoppable.
(in alphabetical order):
• Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
• Aids Action Now
• April 1st Coalition (Kitchener-Waterloo)
• Association of Ontario Health Centres
• Barrio Nuevo
• BASICS Community News Service
• Bathurst Street United Church, Toronto
• Bread and Bricks Social Justice Group
• Campaign for Adequate Welfare and Disability Benefits (Hamilton)
• Common Cause
• Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
• Community Solidarity Network
• Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) – Ontario
• Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA)
• CUPE Toronto District Council
• CUPE 1281 (Ottawa)
• CUPE 2204 (Ottawa, Child Care workers)
• CUPE 3396 (Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board
Education Support Workers)
• CUPE 3906 (Hamilton, McMaster U.)
• CUPE local 4207 (Brock University, St.Catharines)
• CUPE 4600 (Ottawa, Teaching Assists. & Contract Inst., Carleton U.)
• CUPE 4772 (Toronto)
• CUPW Canadian Union of Postal Workers (National) (Click here to read their letter)
•Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre
•Disability Action Movement Now (DAMN)
•The Gerstein Centre, Toronto
•Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly
•Hamilton Coalition Against Poverty
•Health For All
•Health Providers Against Poverty
•Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty
•The Kingston Coalition Against Poverty
•The Love & Rage Liberation Collective
•New Socialist Group
•No One is Illegal – Toronto
•No One is Illegal – Ottawa
•Northumberland Coalition Against Poverty
•Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH)
•Ontario Federation of Labour (Provincial)
•Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups (ONIWG)
•Ontario Nurses Association (ONA)
•Ontario Public Interest Research Group at U of T (OPIRG-Toronto)
•OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union)
•Ottawa District Labour Council
•Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre
•PASAN(Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network)
•Poverty, Homelessness and Migration | Pauvreté, sans-abrisme et migration - Laurentian University
•Poverty Makes Us Sick (Kitchener-Waterloo)
•Public Service Alliance of Canada,Ontario Region
•Recession Relief Coalition
•The Regent Park Community Health Centre
•S.H.A.M.E. (Sarnia's Hometown Activist Movement Emerging)
•Social Justice Collective
•South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)
•South Riverdale Community Health Centre
•Sudbury Against War and Occupation
•Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP)
•Sudbury and District Labour Council
•Toronto Drop-In Network, 91 Bellevue Avenue, Toronto
•Toronto People's Assembly
•Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicutural Women Against Rape
•Toronto Drug Users Union
•Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC)
•Under Pressure (Ottawa)
•Workers Action Centre (720 Spadina Avenue, # 223)