TORONTO, June 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Proposed changes to social assistance
funding in the 2012 Ontario budget will cause First Nation communities
to slide further into cycles of poverty and dependency, and First
Nation Leadership in Ontario are demanding action before it's too late.
The change in funding will result in Ontario Works Health Related
Discretionary Benefits and Non-Health Related Discretionary Benefits
being combined into one with a cap of $10.00 per caseload as opposed to
covering actual costs. Health related discretionary benefits cover such
items as dental work, eye glasses, a proportionate cost of prosthetic
appliances, and funeral and burial costs.
Due to the high costs and with discretionary items being capped, First
Nations will be impacted by the cuts, and many First Nation communities
will suffer as a result of these changes. For example, funding for
funerals and burials will now be capped for costs exceeding $2,250 with
only $10 per case load. In remote communities where basic funerals can
cost between $12,000 and $17,000, there may be families who will not be
able to bury their deceased loved ones.
"Once again, rather than consulting with individual First Nations to
develop a viable solution, the province has decided to take a
'one-size-fits-all' approach that will negatively impact First Nations
and their citizens," said Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. "While
non-First Nation communities might be able to adjust due to the
presence of other social service programs, many remote First Nation
communities will not be able to meet the demands of their most
First Nation Leadership in Ontario has long criticized the province's
social assistance system which has never adequately met the needs of
First Nations. "To move forward, First Nations need to break out of
impoverished conditions that have largely been created by factors
beyond their control such as their inability to share in resource
development that has taken place in their territories, the
disrespecting of their inherent and Treaty rights, and the past effects
of colonialism and forced assimilation through residential schools,"
said Regional Chief Toulouse.
Instead of addressing the destructive legacies left behind for many
First Nation communities from years of hostility and neglect, the
province continues to place the burden on the communities themselves.
This is despite the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance —
which is currently reviewing the social assistance system in Ontario,
and featured participation from First Nations — stating in a discussion
paper "that we need to think differently about social assistance in
First Nations communities, given the unique historical, legal and
Regional Chief Toulouse will be speaking at a rally at Queen's Park
raising awareness of social assistance cuts on Monday, June 4 at 1:45
The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is a coordinating body for the 133 First
Nations located within the boundaries of the Province of Ontario.
SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario
For further information:
Andre Morriseau, Media Relations