I came across the webpage put food in the budget via a post about world food day. This organization is currently advocating to have welfare payments increased by 100 dollars, to help those who live on social assistance buy healthier food. Despite the fact that McGuinty (current premier of Ontario) is a liberal, he has done nothing substantial to roll back the cuts of his conservative predecessor Mike Harris. Mike Harris won a majority with his war on the poor that he called the common sense revolution. He presided over a cut back in welfare payments by 22% under the misguided belief that it would encourage people to get off the system and find a job. According to Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) organizer John Clarke, "Today people would need a 55 per cent increase in social assistance rates to bring them back to the level they were at when Mike Harris cut social assistance in the 90’s."
Put Food in the Budget encourages people to do the math with their expenses survey. When I did it, using what I believed were conservatives amounts my results were as follows:
- $-1035 left to spend on food if you're a single person on Ontario Works
- $-578 left to spend on food if you are receiving ODSP
- $-65 left to spend on food if you are making minimum wage (35h/week).
Real hunger is often invisible. When people are behind closed doors we have no idea if their cupboards are bare and they are drinking copious amounts of water to trick their stomachs into believing that they are full. Cost is often cited as an adequate reason to let people starve and I wonder if they would feel the same if they could see the faces of the people that they are subjecting to such hardship. Could they actually sit there and eat their three course meals in front of a hungry child - could you? We must remember that in amongst those starving adults are young children who are dependent on their parents for survival. What did they do to deserve this, except be born in a heartless time? So much for eliminating child poverty.
Put Food in The Budget suggests the following justification for the increase:
The investment now, however, will produce significant savings in health care costs down the road as shown by international and Canadian research (Sick and Tired Report, Cost of Poverty Report). University of Toronto study Poverty is Making Us Sick in 2008 showed that people at lower income levels are more likely to have two chronic health conditions and that a $1,000 change in annual income in the bottom fifth income group of the population would produce 10,000 fewer chronic conditions and 6,600 fewer disability days.Honestly I believe it need not be that complicated. If people are homeless we should give them shelter and if people are hungry, we should feed them. Just as we believe health care to be a human right, so too are basic necessities like food and appropriate shelter. There is simply no excuse that a single Canadian should have to live like this, when families like the Westons live kings. The separation between rich and poor is ridiculous ad the longer we let this sickness go the more economy will plummet. We risk a social malaise rising to the level of anomie. If we care at all for the country that we call home it is time to take care of the least amongst us.