Fixing Ontario's social safety net, and ensuring people with disabilities live a great life
Every Ontarian deserves a great life, with access to robust social services when they need it most – whether living with a disability or illness, or struggling due to job loss.
People with disabilities routinely face barriers to employment, education, and health care. Decades of Liberal and Conservative cuts to social assistance and disability support have broken Ontario’s social safety net, often locking people into a life of poverty.
The Ontario NDP has a solid, doable plan to fix our social safety net and ensure every Ontarian has dignity, hope, and an affordable life.
FIXING THE ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM
The Liberals left children with autism on years-long waitlists, never getting the care they needed. Doug Ford’s cuts to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) left children without access to services when they needed them most.
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will work in full collaboration with families, caregivers, people with autism, and experts in the field to fix Ontario’s broken Autism Program and get families the support and treatment they need.
Ensure that it’s clinicians and parents who decide what services children receive, rather than government.
Make the OAP fully needs-based, with no caps: We’ll ensure needs-based supports for people with autism, basing care on a person’s needs rather than their age, with care following individuals as they get older. We’ll work with families, caregivers, people with autism, and experts, to recognize the broad diversity of the autism spectrum, and ensure everyone across the spectrum receives the supports and therapies they need to thrive.
FIXING SOCIAL ASSISTANCE – OW AND ODSP
Everyone in Ontario deserves dignity and the chance to live their best life. People who rely on social assistance should be able to count on being treated with dignity, support to live healthy lives and a program that helps them and their families get out of poverty.
The Conservatives cruelly cut social assistance rates in the 1990s, and for years since, Liberal and Conservative governments have refused to provide meaningful support, or income, to people on social assistance. Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates are impossible to live on. They are far too little to provide for shelter, food, and the bare necessities of life anywhere in the province. Now Doug Ford is scheming to privatize the delivery of social assistance employment service programs, which will further harm people on social assistance.
New Democrats know that we have to do better to provide dignity and meaningful support though social assistance. We can’t undo almost three decades of underfunding all at once – but we have a plan to get there.
Lifting everyone out of poverty: We will establish a system that raises people out of poverty no later than the end of our first term. We’ll immediately begin to work with all stakeholders on delivering an evidence-based approach to setting rates at a level that recognizes the real costs of essentials like food and rent.
Increase OW and OSDP rates and supports that lift every recipient out of poverty.
Begin with an immediate increase to OW and ODSP rates by 20%and legislate that raises must, at minimum, be indexed to inflation. This would bring rates to levels they would now be at, had increases recommended as part of the 2017 Income Security Roadmap been followed.
Overhaul Ontario’s broken social assistance system through meaningful consultation and co-design with social assistance clients.
Put a stop to Doug Ford’s scheme to privatize the delivery of social assistance employment service programs.
Scrap pay for performanceand return to a model where caseworkers provide wraparound services to those in need of their assistance.
Fix unfair and disrespectful rules for ODSP recipients:We’ll update the ODSP Act to ensure people living with disabilities are not subjected to a different set of standards than those without disabilities. For example, we’ll change the definition of spouse in ODSP Act to align the timeline by which a person on ODSP is considered common-law with a person not receiving disability support.
Re-start the basic income pilot prematurely cancelled by Doug Ford and continue to weigh innovative approaches to social support.
SUPPORTING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
New Democrats know that together we can create a society that is truly accessible, wherein people living with disabilities can lead good lives free of barriers to the things everyone deserves, including health care, education, employment, and the infrastructure to support their use of public spaces.
Liberal and Conservative governments have ignored their legislated commitments to work towards a fully accessible Ontario set out in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) letting down Ontarians with disabilities. Doug Ford has failed to lay out a clear path, and timelines, to implementing the recommendations in former Lieutenant Governor David Onley’s AODA review.
An Ontario NDP government will listen to and work with people with disabilities and advocates to dismantle the barriers that stand in the way of their living their best lives.
Fix assistive devices program:We’ll increase staffing and modernize service delivery so people with disabilities do not have to wait months for critically important devices.
Implement all recommendations from the Onley report:We’ll honour the commitment Ontario made when it passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and work to urgently implement all recommendations to ensure Ontario is on the path to being fully accessible.
Work with the federal government to deliver a Canada Disability Benefit that does not result in loss of services to recipients, and that measurably improves the lives of Ontarians with disabilities.
Stop forcing people to reapply at 18:We’ll end the practice of forcing people to reapply for supports after turning 18 and cut wait lists for services like respite care, employment training, life skills, and supportive housing.
INVESTING IN SOCIAL HOUSING
Access to a safe, affordable, and supportive place to live is a basic right, and essential to many Ontarians who are struggling.
Years of Liberal and Conservative underfunding of social housing have led to poor supply, and people spending years—sometimes as long as decades – on waitlists.
The Ontario NDP’s Housing plan, Homes You Can Afford, includes a commitment to working with municipalities to build and upgrade tens of thousands of social housing units, so all Ontarians have access to decent, dignified housing in their communities when they need it, no matter what their income.
Build 100,000 units of social housing over the next decade.
Update 260,000 social housing units to extend their lifespan.
INVESTING IN SHELTERS
Everyone in Ontario deserves a roof over their head, and a safe place to sleep.
Decades of Liberal and Conservative underfunding of affordable housing and weak protections for tenants have left too many people homeless or precariously housed. Instead of helping, Doug Ford defunded critical anti-poverty programs and abandoned the goal of ending homelessness.
New Democrats believe that Ontario is facing a homelessness emergency. Our Homes You Can Afford plan includes concrete, doable actions to make sure everyone has a safe place to sleep, as well as access to supportive and affordable transitional and permanent housing.
Work to end chronic homelessness within 10 years: We’ll provide safe, accessible, supportive transitional and permanent housing for Ontarians impacted by homelessness, including temporary housing like hotels, as we increase funding for permanent and transitional housing.
Implement a Housing First Strategythat guarantees all Ontarians, regardless of income or ability, have access to safe, secure, and affordable housing to build a stable life.
Build 60,000 new homes with supports for people living with mental health and addictions challenges. Our plan will prioritize local and individual needs in both rural and urban regions, and reflect the lived experiences of women, families, Black, Indigenous and racialized people, youth, 2SLGBTQIA+ folks, and newcomers experiencing homelessness.
PROTECTING CHILDREN IN CARE
Every child in Ontario matters, and deserves to grow up with love, safety, and care.
Chronic underfunding of child welfare by Liberal and Conservative governments have meant children have slipped through the cracks in the system – at times with tragic consequences. Black and Indigenous children are overrepresented in the system. Instead of investing to protect children in care, Doug Ford threatened to cut millions from Children’s Aid societies and eliminated Ontario’s first and only independent child advocate.
New Democrats know we can’t cut corners when it comes to children’s safety. We will fix Ontario’s broken child welfare system and invest in keeping all children safe, as well as ensuring they have opportunities to thrive.
Reinstate Ontario’s independent Child Advocate to ensure children in Ontario’s child welfare and youth justice systems have a say in decisions about their future.
Raise the age of protection:We’ll extend the moratorium on aging out of care and consult with youth in care to produce a system that better supports them as they enter adulthood.
End solitary confinement for kids and youth: We’ll once and for all end the practice of solitary confinement for children.