Of the 1%, for the 1%, to the 1%?
Single People and social assistance
- In 2012, three years following the greatest recession since the Great Depression, 1.1% of Ontarians (157,000 men and women) received social assistance (Ontario Works) in Ontario (in February 2012).
- The number of single people receiving Ontario Works has increased by over 65% (157,000 vs. 95,000) since the year 2000.
Social assistance benefit rates
- Ontario’s single social assistance rate (Ontario Works) was increased to $599 a month in December 2011, with $227 allocated (by regulation) to basic needs.
- The minimum monthly cost of a nutritional food basket requiring secure, energy efficient, and affordable storage, freezing, refrigeration, and cooking facilities is $270.
- Ontario’s single social assistance rate was $663 a month in 1993.
- If adjusted for inflation since 1993, Ontario’s single social assistance rate would now stand at $942 a month, $343 more than in 2012.
- It would take a 57% rate increase to equal the single rate paid in 1993.
Social Assistance and Minimum wages
- The social assistance single rate now stands at 36% of full time minimum wages ($10.25 an hour), the same as in 1937 when minimum wages were first legislated.
- In 1993, the social assistance single rate stood at 60% of full time minimum wages ($6.35 an hour)
The record of successive governments
- In 1995, the Harris government cut the single rate by 21.6% to $520 a month.
- The $520 rate was not adjusted in the next 8 years by Mr. Harris or Mr. Eves
- If adjusted to inflation, the $520 would have risen to $614 a month in 2003
- In other words, just to get this rate back to where it was when cut would have required an 18% increase.
- The McGuinty government inherited the $520 rate and has raised it several times to $599 a month, an aggregate increase of 15.2%
- Had the $520 rate been adjusted to inflation since 2003, it would now stand at $613 a month
- It would take an additional 2.3% increase to raise rates to where they were in 2003 and a 39.2% increase to raise them to the inflation adjusted level ($724 a month) they stood at after the Harris cuts.
- The current $599 a month rate – in real terms – is $225 a month less than what it was following the Harris cut of 21.6%.