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19 2011

One is the loneliest number

Syndicated from: Daily Bread Food Bank

This is the last post in a series of election blog posts where we highlight some of the problem areas in the current social assistance system as well as challenge politicians to consider some of the potential solutions that we will also outline.  Visits to food banks in the GTA remain well above pre-recession levels and we want to see poverty and hunger front and centre as an election issue. Poverty adversely affects far too many people in Ontario and there are solutions to help alleviate it. An ongoing trend we have seen from our research is an increase in single persons who are coming to food banks, and are more likely to cycling on and off social assistance multiple times compared to other household groups. These singles are more likely to be male, and often have multiple barriers to employment such as having a disability. During difficult economic times, households with children have other forms of income such as child tax benefits that can carry them through until things improve, preventing many from having to apply for welfare. Single people in Ontario do not have such benefits available to them and are instead forced to apply for welfare which then often leads individuals to be trapped into a cycle of poverty aided by the very government system that is supposed to be helping them. With fewer income supports get them through hard times, single individuals are more often going hungry due to lack of money and low social assistance rates. An Ontario Housing Benefit, paid outside the social assistance system, would be a much needed extra form of income support that would help during difficult times and reduce the need for social assistance. Employment supports, including help transitioning from welfare to work would also be a vital help to this group of individuals.

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