Elaine Powers from Policy Options helps us do the math
The province’s basic income pilot project and income security review are promising, but the need to increase social assistance rates is urgent.
Six hundred and fifty-six dollars. $656.
That’s the amount — per month — that the Ontario government provided in 2015 to social assistance recipients who were single and considered “able-bodied.” Add in the GST credit and the Ontario Trillium Benefit for those living on low-incomes, and the total monthly income amounted to $740, whether you lived in Toronto, Thunder Bay, Ottawa or anywhere else in the province.
Even if a single, able-bodied person on the social assistance program Ontario Works (OW) moved to Windsor, which has the lowest average rents in the province, and rented an “average” bachelor apartment, he or she would still have only $202 left over for the whole month after paying for housing. Two hundred and two dollars per month would have to pay for everything else, including food, transportation, clothing, and all other expenses of life, perhaps even utilities.
In my home community of Kingston, the average bachelor apartment costs 92 percent of the monthly income of a single person who was on OW in 2015. The monthly cost of a basic, nutritious diet, $297, takes another 40 percent. It doesn’t add up.