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City Institute PhD student: Why welfare won't be fixed

City Institute PhD student: Why welfare won't be fixed

Simon Black, a PhD student in political science and a resident of the City Institute at York University, wrote an op-ed for the Toronto Star yesterday on why governments don't think the welfare system is broken. His commentary was published in advance of the Ontario budget, which will be delivered this afternoon.

That welfare is broken is not just the cry of anti-poverty advocates and "radical" activists; groups like the multi-sector Toronto City Summit Alliance and economists such as the TD Bank's Don Drummond have called for a much needed modernization of the province's income security policies. It is this widespread recognition that something must be done about poverty in Ontario, and the social policies which are meant to address it, that led the McGuinty government to adopt Breaking the Cycle, the province's poverty reduction strategy which aims to reduce child poverty by 25 per cent over five years.

So why is the government unlikely to overhaul social assistance any time soon, if ever, despite its apparent commitment to an anti-poverty agenda? Sure, minor adjustments may well be made: for instance, currently an able-bodied unemployed person who has exhausted their employment insurance benefits must be destitute (i.e. with little savings) before becoming eligible for social assistance. Calls to exempt the first $5,000 of a welfare applicant's savings, as they do in Alberta, may be heeded by the McGuinty Liberals. But despite these potential changes, welfare on the whole will not be fixed, chiefly because from the perspective of government and the business community, welfare is not broken.

The complete article is available on the Toronto Star's Web site.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, with files courtesy of YFile – York University’s daily e-bulletin.