by Dr.Joey Only
Ontario has just approved 40 new green energy projects and has found a way to pay for it, by attacking the poor.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid said Thursday new contracts have been signed with 35 solar projects, four wind projects and one water projects. The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program has been controversial – with some Ontarians worried about its impact on their communities or bills.
At the same time the government has made another slash on the budget for welfare recipients at a time where Ontario hasn’t fully emerged from an economic slowdown. The cut that is being made is to the Special Diet Allowance which allows for people with a doctors note to gain an extra $250 a month intended for the grocery bill.
People are unemployed and that’s not going to change any time soon, it takes a certain kind of callousness to not recognize this and to have little empathy for those caught in that situation. Across the province, welfare numbers climbed in January with 462,146 adults and children depending on social assistance, compared to 454,935 just a month earlier. In the early 90’s Ontario had nearly a million people receiving social assistance, then in 1995 cut welfare payments by 21.6%. The government is already saving money if one considers the numbers in a historical context.
The Ontario Government is making everyone who receives this supplement to re-apply citing massive proportions of FRAUD to be the reason behind this move. They cite this as the reason that there’s been a 1200% increase since 2006 on the number of people on the allowance. Figure that an average single person on welfare receives $572 a month to pay rent, feed themselves and use public transit to get themselves to a job application; it’s not enough money to live on when one considers the incredible price of living in Toronto.
The government cites one case where a doctor reported 99% of his patients who applied for the Diet Allowance as having celiac disease even though 1% of the population suffers from it. They call this fraud but the reality of Ontario’s poor is that $572/month is not enough money to feed themselves, it is in no way fraudulant to apply for a special diet allowance…living on a budget like this people would waste away without frauding the government. There is no such thing as fraud when one is facing the prospect of starving to death in one of the richest countries in the world.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty started a campaign just a few years ago to get as many people on the Special Diet Allowance as they could. They found doctors who were willing to sign people up and on mass sent the applications for thousands of people in to Ontario Works, when the government complains of huge increases in the number of people ‘abusing’ the system it’s a direct acknowledgement of OCAP’s good work. It was just a few weeks ago that Mayor Rob Ford’s brother told OCAP members to ‘get a job’ when they stormed city council to protest massive cuts to the city’s shelters.
All in all, moves toward a building a greener province is a good thing and will have a lot of liberal people in Toronto satisfied that the government is taking steps to move away from the status quo of capitalist economics, they will consider their government to be more with the times and progressive…many of these green/liberal people have an inherent dislike for the poor which may not be noticeable on the surface, but expect to hear very little outcry about the cuts to welfare. The government can help pay for it’s green energy projects by taking yet more out of the pockets of the provinces poor and those who have hopped on the eco-trend will overlook yet another example of the poor getting the shit end of the stick.
The logic of this system does not make sense on a humane level. They cut taxes to corporations, businesses and the rich thereby putting more money into the pockets of the wealthy at the same time cutting services to those in dire straights. Ontario may be a greener province, but it is still a mean province.