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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:05 pm    Post subject: Welfare numbers soar in Ontario Reply with quote

Welfare numbers soar in Ontario

Last Updated: 6th January 2010, 4:45am

.The number of Ontario residents on welfare jumped by more than 63,200 last year.

The social assistance caseload increased by about 20% between November 2008 and November 2009, according to the latest government figures available.

Charlotte Wilkinson, of the ministry of community and social services, said the rising number of recipients reflects the global economic downturn.

"The Ontario Works caseload generally increases when the unemployment rate increases, which is what has happened in Ontario during this economic recession," Wilkinson said in an e-mail.

"We recognize the diverse challenges that many Ontario Works recipients face, particularly in a changing economy, but even under these circumstances 19% of Ontario Works participants have left the program to move into jobs this year."

The Ontario government took a number of steps since 2005 to help people find work through measures such as increasing the maximum deduction for child care for working parents and extending drug, dental and vision care benefits to people leaving social assistance for work, she said.

The total number of beneficiaries -- 365,319 -- still falls dramatically short of the 1.3 million Ontarians on the dole during the last recession of the early 1990s.

NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo said she does not believe that people are better off this time around.

"What we do see now is a rise in what I call precarious employment ... part-time, contract labour," DiNovo said. "There's a huge, great swath of people out there who are kind of just making do with odd jobs here and there."

John Clarke, of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), said social assistance rules -- by design or application -- deny many people their rightful benefits.

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Welfare numbers soar in Ontario

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