Background: The Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario review of Social Assistance in Ontario (2012) has recommended that social assistance rates be set around three key objectives: “adequacy, so that you can obtain nutritious food, secure housing and other basic necessities, no matter what region of the province you live in; fairness, so that a low-income person who is working is not at a disadvantage compared with a person receiving social assistance; and financial incentive to work, so that you can see a rise in your standard of living when you take a job or work more hours” (p.25).
The current system has numerous rules, a multitudinous array of benefits that requires case workers to help the poor navigate through the system instead of helping individuals begin to improve their lives and find employment. Currently a lone parent with one child on Ontario Works (OW) has an annual income of $16,683. However, the poverty line for this same parent with one child is $26,279. Is it any wonder why the uptake of food from food banks has shown a significant increase with a 40% increase in children accessing their food from these sources. What is recommended is an immediate increase of $100 per month for all OW recipients. Even this amount will only bring the same mother and child up to $19,083, which means their income is still $7,196 below the poverty line. To meet the poverty line an increase of $416 per month per person is required.
The report strongly urges the government to shift its punitive stance in penalizing those who are not working into a new system titled Pathway to Employment. In this approach adults work with case workers to develop a plan to move them into employment including all the conditions needed to get there. Considering the findings reported in the Cost of Poverty: An Analysis of the Economic Cost of Poverty in Ontario if part of this pathway funding provided support for a combination of post-secondary education for single mothers and “high quality of publicly funded day care” for these mothers’ children up to full-day kindergarten age there would be a long-term benefit from “$4 to $16 for every dollar invested” (2008, p. 23). Post- secondary education however needs to be designed to accommodate women who often have had negative learning experiences in the past. This education needs to be offered through alternative learning approaches that take into account the many barriers these women face in their abilities to succeed.
Poverty Free Ontario (2008). Status of Poverty in Ontario. http://www.poverytfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario
Laurie, N. (2008). The cost of poverty: An analysis of the economic cost of poverty in Ontario. Ontario Association of Food Banks. www.endhuger.ca
Lankin, F. & Sheikh, M.A. (2012). Brighter prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario. Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario. Toronto, ON: Ministry of Community & Social Services, Government of Ontario
RESOLUTION: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Ministry of Community and Social Services to collaborate with the Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities to develop pathways to education that can build into pathways to employment, for those single mothers who are living in poverty, and;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities to encourage post-secondary institutions to develop creative alternative learning means to support single mothers who live in poverty and were unable to complete secondary schooling to enter into post-secondary studies;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities to urge the presidents of post-secondary institutions in Ontario to require administrators, faculty and staff to participate in the program Bridges Out of Poverty training noted below;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that BPW Ontario urges the Ministry of Child and Youth Services to provide incentives for high quality ministry approved or licensed day care operators to accept funded children of single mothers who are studying at post-secondary institutions in Ontario.
Bridges out of Poverty Program: This one day workshop helps participants gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and strengths of people living in poverty. Examining the impact of poverty assists educators in creating supportive environments for single mothers who live in poverty to enhance their success in educational achievement.
©BPW Ontario www.bpwontario.com
Article ID: 4369