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Ontario budget to boost remote communities allowance

People relying on social assistance in Ontario's Far North will soon see a bit more on their monthly cheques.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is seen speaking with Timmins-James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson in the Ontario Legislature. The legislature is expected to pass the Liberal budget this week. It includes some more help for people in the province's far north trying to make ends meet. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

People relying on social assistance in Ontario's Far North will soon see a bit more on their monthly cheques.

The province is bumping up the Remote Communities Allowance that people on the James Bay Coast receive, along with welfare and disability payments.

Under the plan laid out in the new Liberal budget, a single person would receive $50 more per month, while the increase for a family of four is $120.

"Is this a good thing? Absolutely,” said Gilles Bisson, the New Democrat  MPP for Timmins-James Bay.

“I think it meets some of the needs of those communities and allows people some respite when it comes to purchasing food a bit more affordably."

About 4,700 people in the Far North receive the Remote Communities Allowance every month.

The proposed increase will cost $4 million dollars, bringing the total bill for the program to $17 million.

Bisson applauds the move, but says a more permanent solution is needed.

"One of the things we saw in Attawapiskat is when people started getting employment at DeBeers, the prices at the store start going up. So, for the people who weren't working, it was kind of a double whammy."

Bisson said he'd like to see first nations on James Bay set up their own grocery co-ops in order to keep the cost of living down.

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