The Ottawa Food Bank is disappointed with the Ontario Government’s decision to cancel the Basic Income pilot – which it committed to continue during the provincial election. The pilot program, which was already producing positive outcomes in participating communities, would have provided evidence-based research as to whether a basic income approach could be a tool to reduce poverty in Ontario.
Our organization, along with food banks across Ontario, had called on the government of Ontario to implement a basic income as a means to decrease dependency on food banks, improve physical and mental health, provide dignity, and pave a path out of poverty.
The Ottawa Food Bank is distressed to learn that the 3 per cent increase to social assistance programs will be cut in half. Social assistance rates have not kept pace with inflation and the reduced increase will continue to cause reliance on emergency food banks. 59 per cent of the 38,400 people who depend on a food bank in Ottawa every month are social assistance recipients. The decision to reduce the increase of social assistance rates could in turn cause an increase of the number of food bank clients as people struggle to balance the rising cost of living and providing their families with healthy and nutritious food.