Hopes fade for humane welfare system in Ontario

April 23, 2012
Article Source
Toronto Star

Doubts have set in about what kind of blueprint for reform Ontario's social assistance review panel will produce two months from now.

Their last hope is Frances Lankin. And they're no longer sure whether she’s a friend or a foe.

Two months from now Lankin and Munir Sheik, co-chairs of Ontario's social assistance review will release their blueprint. Their aim is to turn the province’s threadbare, demeaning welfare system into a modern income security system.

Initially, the 880,000 people who depend on social assistance -- which includes welfare and disability support — regarded Lankin, former president of the United Way of Greater Toronto, as their champion in the corridors of power. She knew they couldn't live on the province's meagre allowance. She knew they needed affordable housing and child care. She knew the system stripped them of their privacy and their dignity.

But in recent months, doubts have set in. The commission's discussion paper in February was vague and unsettling. Last month's provincial budget was ominous. And the rumours they're hearing scare them.

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