Income security reform at stake with Thursday’s election

June 6, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

From an opinion piece in the Toronto Star: Thursday's provincial election may represent a watershed moment for attempts to end poverty in Ontario. 

My five colleagues -- Gary Bloch, Laura Cattari, Debbie Douglas, Janet Reansbury and John Stapleton -- and I have been part of discussion and debate, in some cases over several decades, involving government and civil society, about the desperate need for income security reform in our province. We have contributed to, supported and critiqued report after report, government proposals and specific reforms. Over the past 15 years, the focus has been mostly on incremental progress -- until this spring.

Over the last two years we sat, at the invitation of our government, as part of a group charged with developing a 10-year plan for income security reform in Ontario. That plan was intended to complement the government's decision to test the concept of a basic income guarantee.

Our report, "Income Security: A Roadmap for Change," was released last November to little official fanfare. It presents a comprehensive, forward-looking, and eminently implementable 10-year plan for income security reform in Ontario.

Its 98 recommendations include transforming social assistance to a program that provides real assistance to those it serves. It includes specific measures to assist all low-income persons in areas of greatest need, for example with the struggle to find affordable housing. It also includes a focus on those in deepest poverty, such as people who are homeless. And, essential to the lived realities of poverty in our province, it incorporates a uniquely integrated Indigenous voice throughout the report.

Over the following four months we worried that the Road map was being officially buried -- in that graveyard of beautifully written, sincere, well-intentioned, and ultimately ignored reports that came before it. We were concerned that, once again, a plan for realizable, measurable change would remain just that.

Read more: Income security reform at stake with Thursday’s election