December 2019 the Ontario government announced a consultation on the next five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy. According to Ministry figures, one in seven Ontarians live in poverty. Several recent reports provide a closer look at the social and economic dimensions of poverty. Feed Ontario’s recent report examining the impact of increased health and justice system expenses and lost personal and tax revenue (when people are unemployed or underemployed), estimates poverty costs the province up to $33 billion a year annually.
“Precipice of vulnerability”
The Colour of Poverty–Colour of Change (COP-COC) network’s fact sheets show how and why poverty rates disproportionately impact Ontario’s racialized communities – a growing economic inequality affecting ethnocultural groups (and women workers) identified also in a 2019 Metcalf study on the working poor in the Toronto region. As its author John Stapleton writes, many live on the “precipice of vulnerability” – where all too easily an unexpected circumstance, such as getting injured or sick, can prove catastrophic.
Injured workers know this only too well. The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) report Phantom jobs & Empty Pockets, in looking at what really happens to workers with permanent work-acquired disabilities, shows how the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) practice of deeming creates poverty. How much? A 2015 study of permanently injured workers’ compensation claimants revealed some startling facts about who was near, below, or way below the poverty line: 9% in deep poverty; 17% in poverty, another 20% near-poverty.
Where do those cut off go asks a 2017 report, the first of a multiphase project looking at disentitlement from WSIB benefits and a growing reliance on social assistance, with injured workers forced onto the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) – a program many also now fear under threat.
Have your say
- Organizations and individuals can provide written submissions to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take the online survey (individuals : organizations ). Deadline for written submissions and survey : March 30, 2020.
- Support ISAC’s submission to the Ontario 2020 Pre-Budget consultations or send your own to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs (by January 24) email: email@example.com
- Ask your MPP to support an end to deeming: ONIWG’s Workers’ Comp Is A Right Campaign End Deeming Lobby Kit.