The rising cost of living and stagnant social assistance rates have forced many Ontarians to choose between rent and food. RNAO senior policy analyst Lynn Anne Mulrooney heard these stories and more as a panelist at the Dec. 6 Poor People’s Inquiry at South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto.
This was one of a dozen province-wide meetings to gather evidence about the impact of government policies on the lives of social assistance recipients. There was strong consensus that the one-per cent social assistance increase in the province’s 2013 budget could not stand up to rising costs for shelter, food and transportation.
Many participants told heartbreaking stories of despair, exclusion, and suicidal thoughts, Mulrooney says.
“To be poor is a sin and to be on benefits is to mark you as a social outcast,” said one community member.
The cumulative results of the meetings will be released in 2014. More information about the Poor People’s Inquiry, organized by the Put Food in the Budget Campaign, is available at putfoodinthebudget.ca/campaigns/peoplesinquiry.html