Two million Ontarians left behind: no plan for low-income people in throne speech

Posted July 13, 2018

Despite identifying as a “government for the people”, the Ontario PCs failed to make any substantial promises to support low and moderate income Ontarians in yesterday’s speech from the throne. 
 
We heard that Hydro costs will be lowered, but were given no plan for how the government will achieve this. ACORN members feel strongly that fees associated with hydro should be capped, and OESP levels should be increased annually in line with hydro increases. Tax rebates were promised for low-income workers and parents, but what we really need is a $15/hour minimum wage and universal child care that is affordable, accessible and fair; policies that would keep real money in our pockets. 
 
We were disappointed that there was no mention of the government’s plan to boost affordable housing in the province. Rent is unaffordable for almost half of Ontario’s tenants. ACORN members call on the government to implement vacancy decontrol for real rent control and to end above-guideline rent increases.
 
1 in 4 people with a disability live in poverty in Ontario. It is concerning that the government has failed to put forward a plan for social assistance reform. ODSP recipients urgently need the rates to be raised, along with employment income thresholds. OW rates and asset limits must be raised too.
 
The government’s decision to scrap cap and trade with no alternative in place is deeply disappointing. In Ontario, the consequences of climate change are clear from a rise in dangerous storms, heat, and other extreme weather conditions. Low-income and marginalized communities are acutely affected by climate change, both by the costs involved in mitigating the impact and by health effects such as heat-related illness, respiratory and allergic conditions, and other health concerns. The Province must act urgently to implement an alternative plan to tackle climate change and support the carbon reduction efforts of low-income communities. We also call on the government to including binding community benefits agreements in all provincial infrastructure projects, to ensure low-income communities benefit from new development.
 
With the government’s promise to respect consumers, we hope that consumer protections will be strengthened. Too many Ontarians are forced to rely on the services of unscrupulous, high-interest lenders. Ontario must take action to end predatory lending and support alternatives to meet the needs of low and moderate income borrowers.
 
The speech echoed Ford’s campaign rhetoric: big promises with little detail. Almost 2 million Ontarians live in poverty -- we need more than empty promises.