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Social assistance plan isn’t for the people

Dec 14, 2018

The Ford government is not for the people. At least not for the young people I work with, writes Naomi Thulien.

Opinion piece published in the Hamilton Spectator

On Nov. 22, I watched as Ontario's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, stood behind a podium that read "For the People" and delivered the Conservative government's plan to reform social assistance in Ontario. My initial reaction was: For what people?

In my role as a researcher and clinician, I work with young people attempting the daunting task of transitioning away from homelessness. Most of these young people rely on the Ontario Works (OW) program — social assistance for those without a diagnosed disability — as their primary source of income. Some rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The majority have not finished high school so, the only jobs available to them tend to be minimum wage, part-time, "dead end" jobs. And when they do find work, social assistance is quick to claw back their meagre incomes. Those who enrol in post-secondary education and qualify for "free tuition" get their OW supplements taken away, which makes sense if you are fortunate enough to have some place to live for free.

Read the rest of the story on the Hamilton Spectator

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