Ontario budget's cruel elimination of special dietary supplement will result
in significantly higher health care costs

TORONTO, March 28 /CNW/ - Ontario's budget will eliminate the $250 dietary allowance available to ill recipients of social assistance and this will significantly drive up healthcare costs, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE said today.

Ontario Council of Hospital Unions President Michael Hurley stated "single people on social assistance receive $572 a month. A room costs $450 a month. That leaves $122 a month for food and clothing and all other necessities. Until this budget people on social assistance with medical conditions could access an additional supplement of $250 a month for food with a doctor's recommendation. This has been cut and that really offends Ontario's humanity."

Hurley also said that "depriving people, who are already ill, of food will result in increased hospitalization and other demands on the healthcare system. This is the opposite of the government's health strategy, which is to provide assistance in the community to avoid institutionalization. Every person who is acutely ill and hospitalized will cost the system $1,000 or more a day."

"The fact that doctors have prescribed the special dietary supplement for 124,000 households should flag that many people on social assistance have medical conditions and these are exacerbated by inadequate diet, housing and clothing. If 5% of these citizens become acutely ill as a result of their malnutrition every penny the province is saving here will be paid out in hospitalization costs. The province should reverse this decision, it will only mean added personal suffering for sick people on social assistance and higher healthcare spending," Hurley concluded.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: For further information: Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, (416) 884-0770, (819) 456-2159

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