Toronto

Ford government rolls back planned cuts to child benefit, other social assistance

Doug Ford’s PC government is scrapping planned cuts to social assistance programs, including the Transition Child Benefit — which helps families in the most need — following an outcry from across the province.

The Transition Child Benefit was slated to end on Nov. 1

The Transition Child Benefit amounts to a maximum of $230 per child, per month. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

Doug Ford's PC government is scrapping planned cuts to social assistance programs, including the Transition Child Benefit — which helps families in the most need — following an outcry from across the province.

Earlier this year, the province announced changes to Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program and the child benefit. The Transition Child Benefit (TCB) was slated to end on Nov. 1.

In the wake of that announcement, municipalities and social justice advocates said losing the benefit, which amounts to a maximum of $230 per child per month, would leave low-income families — in particular refugee claimants, who are not eligible for other child benefit payments — in a budget shortfall.

The money is designed to supplement Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

"After careful consideration, these programs will continue in their current form to all recipients in accordance with existing policies," Christine Wood, a spokesperson for Children, Community and Social Services Minister Todd Smith, told CBC Toronto Thursday in an emailed statement.

"We are focusing on the broader plan to improve social assistance and employment programs so that everyone can contribute to the success of our province. We are listening and exploring the best ways to bring the most positive outcomes for Ontarians in need."

Mayor John Tory said Thursday he received a letter from Smith's office informing him of the rollback. In a statement, the mayor said losing the benefit would affect families' housing in particular, and the city's emergency shelter system "would have ended up as a destination of last resort of many families.

"I hope that the review of this benefit now underway will both recognize the important contribution it makes to family stability and recognizes that is should be funded on a permanent basis by the provincial and federal governments."

NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky, the party's critic for community and social services, said the government's reversal means "many vulnerable families can stay afloat."

In a series of tweets Thursday, she said she's "glad the cuts aren't moving forward," but said the government's original announcement left thousands of people "terrified about their future."

And Liberal MPP Michael Coteau, a former minister of children and youth services, as well as community and social services, credited "advocates and municipal leaders" for "shaming the Ford government into backtracking on its plan" for the cuts.

"Todd Smith and Doug Ford have been forced to change course on a cruel, hurtful cut that targeted Ontarians who are most in need," Coteau said in a statement. "Front-line workers in health and social services stood up for the people they care for, municipal leaders took a stand, and vulnerable children, adults and families are getting a reprieve."

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