Ford's Government is clear about one thing: low-income Ontarians are under attack

“The fiscal hole is deep… Everyone across the province will be required to make sacrifices, without exception”. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli further emphasized the government’s plan to attack Ontario’s most vulnerable as he announced tax breaks for the rich and a series of cuts and rollbacks that will gut protections for low-income Ontarians.

ACORN members are deeply disappointed that the government is axing rent controls for newly built and newly converted units. This will further exacerbate the housing affordability crisis in Ontario cities -- we need to build more affordable housing, not give greedy landlords free rein. ACORN members are outraged that Ford has backpedaled on the promise he made to renters during his campaign: “I won’t take rent control away from anyone. Period.” Along with allies, we fought for and won the closure of the 1991 rent control loophole. We have serious concerns that the current government’s regressive policy could mean that already vulnerable renters will be priced out.

We note that the government has pledged to develop a Housing Supply Action Plan and has committed to public consultation. The government must ensure that meaningful consultation is conducted with underrepresented Ontarians: too often, low-income tenants are left out of policy discussions that impact them.

The government announced the new Low‐income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) credit, promoting it as a generous tax cut. Apparently, low-income workers who earn less than $30,000 per year won’t pay income tax as a result of the LIFT program. ACORN members can see through this. Most low-income workers earn so little that they are not required to pay income tax, and would benefit more from a higher minimum wage. Analysts project that low-income earners would be up to $824 better off each year with a $15/hour minimum wage than with an income tax cut [1]. ACORN members strongly oppose Ford’s plan to scrap the legislated increase to the minimum wage, along with other protections for vulnerable workers.

The government was silent on promises that had been made by the previous government including transit investments, and free, licensed child care for children aged two and a half and above. Low-income tenants were also disappointed to see no money for energy and building retrofits, after the government scrapped cap and trade earlier this year, resulting in a loss of up to $900 million for Ontario apartment buildings.

We were shocked to learn that Ford has repealed the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, and the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. The scrapping of both of these roles will have a lasting impact on low-income Ontarians. The Advocate for Children is independent of government and ensures the voices of children and young people are heard on important issues such as welfare, mental health, disabilities, and more. The environmental commissioner is tasked with ensuring the government complies with provincial environmental laws. Low-income people are disproportionately impacted by environmental inequality. In cutting these roles, it couldn't be clearer that the province is waging a war on the province's most vulnerable.

There were no updates for OW and ODSP recipients who are anxiously awaiting November 22nd, when the outcome of the government’s 100-day social assistance review is revealed. Almost 1 million social assistance beneficiaries have been left waiting to hear what additional cuts the government has in store for them. What was evident from today’s announcement is that cuts are on their way: the government reiterated their intention to focus on employment over assistance and the social services budget has been cut by $900 million. What staff or programs will be scrapped as a result?

Coupled with the recent cuts to social assistance rates and other measures that will make life more unaffordable for low-income people, it is clear that vulnerable Ontarians are under attack.

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[1] Richard Tranjan: Who benefits from tax cuts in lieu of a $15 minimum wage? Not workers