Revealing opinion piece by Joe Mihevc, city councillor in St. Paul's (ward 21) - http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/local/article/72774--opinion-doing-the-math-on-poverty tells us how our once compassionate social safety net has become "threadbare".
Since the Mike Harris conservatives slashed welfare rates by 22% in 1995 and downloaded all the costs to cash-strapped cities, we have seen life become much bleaker for those on low income. Successive governments have been very slow off the mark to do much that is meaningful to reduce poverty in our society, despite repeated promises.
And it's not just those on social assistance that are suffering more. In fact, we have a new term - the "working poor" - to describe those in insecure employment (no benefits, seasonal, part-time) who work at minimum wage, even at multiple jobs, just to make ends meet.
One-third of the households in our ward (over 6,000) have an income under $30,000. Source: City of Toronto Ward Profiles http://www.toronto.ca/wards2000/pdf/2006/ward18_income_page.pdf
(This information is old (2006), and I suspect it is much worse now as we collectively try to claw our way out of the recession.)
The innovative Stop Community/Food Centre (1884 Davenport Road) has kicked off a new campaign (DO THE MATH) that vividly shows what it's like to live as a single person on low income in today's Toronto. I urge people to check out their website for more information: http://www.dothemath.thestop.org/
- $ 572/month or under $ 7,000 a year for single person on Ontario Works
- $1,020/month or about $12,000 a year for single on Ontario Disability
- $1,429/month or about $17,000 a year for single on minimum wage (35 hrs/week)