News - Press Release
Press Release

Ford government has strange way of showing compassion to social assistance recipients: Thomas

Publication Date

Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 6:30am

Toronto – Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is denouncing the Ford government for slashing Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates.

“The government’s latest assault on the so-called “little guy” won’t fool anybody, least of all the families who rely on Ontario Works and ODSP to get by. They say they’re ‘compassionately’ increasing rates by 1.5 per cent. In fact, the rate was supposed to go up three per cent. This government is cutting it in half. That’s a strange way to show compassion to the vulnerable.

“But Doug Ford was born into a millionaire family. I know people – lots of people – who weren’t so lucky and were forced to rely on social assistance. I can tell you, it’s a huge struggle to live on what you get, especially in urban areas. I challenge anyone who thinks differently to try it.

Thomas also questioned the 100-day timeline to review Ontario’s extensive social assistance system, but said if the government was looking for a quick win, it should reverse the Harris Tories’ download of social assistance and housing to municipalities.

“Municipalities, particularly the smaller, rural and northern municipalities, have been crushed by Mike Harris’s disastrous download of social costs. The single best thing Doug Ford could do to improve the province’s social assistance program would be to return those costs to the province.

“The system is incredibly complex and involves vast numbers of stakeholders and partners.  This government is making policy on the fly – and then leaving it to others to cope with the mess. They’ve done the same thing with privatizing cannabis and cutting Toronto Council.

Ford and his government should be consulting front-line workers through their bargaining agent about any changes to the social assistance system rather than reeling off daily edicts. That's where the expertise is, Thomas said.

“Ford isn’t governing, he is swinging wildly. We need constructive, well-thought-out policy that will build our communities and improve lives – and make our province even more attractive to investors. Picking on impoverished families, pursuing a vendetta against Toronto council, and taking a Wild West show approach to cannabis sales will only discourage investment, stunt growth and drain the public purse.

“Ford says help is here, but just who is he helping? One thing’s for sure: it’s not the little guy. It's easy to think you hit a triple when you were born on third base."

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931