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(en) Strike! August issue - Welfare / ODSP: Special Diet Supplement Wrestle Continues with City and Provincial Liberals

Date Thu, 18 Aug 2005 10:11:45 +0300

An update on the struggle for a raise in the Ontario welfare and disability
rates focusing on the 'special diet supplement’, which is under attack from
Toronto bureaucrats.
TORONTO - As reported in the July issue of Strike! The Special Diet Campaign
undertaken by OntarioCoalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and allies in the
Ontario Common Front has been widely successful, helping hundreds of people
access $250/per month for improved nutrition. On August 7th , in Belleville,
the Tenant Action Group (TAG), together with the Marsh Drive and North Park
communities, organized a highly successful “hunger clinic” which signed up
124 for the supplement.

In early July Toronto’s welfare administrators attempted to bring in
mean-spirited changes to the special diet policy requiring all people
receiving the supplement to re-apply for it on new municipal forms. In
an overtly sexist move, nurse practitioners, dieticians and midwives
would no longer be allowed to authorize the forms. Additionally, doctors
would be asked to reveal specific underlying medical conditions for each
applicant. As one CUPE worker in social services revealed to me, this was
in violation of even the Provinces welfare regulations, as well as basic
health protection law which is supposed to protect doctor-patient
confidentiality. These policies would have excluded about 1/3 of people
currently receiving the allowance.

On July 21st , a public strategy meeting was held in Etobicoke, conducted
in different languages (Somali, Spanish, English), with over 150 spirited
participants. They voted overwhelmingly to directly confront the Mayor
and occupy city hall until their demands were won.

In the face of this large and angry mobilization of people receiving
the supplement --combined with demands from medical practitioners,
especially nurses -- the City was forced to retreat from these plans
rather than face a publicly embarrassing occupation of City Hall and
the prospect of legal action. While this obstacle was overcome, the
City continues to arbitrarily deny many people for various dubious
reasons. Forty-two families presented a united front on August 5th
at the Mayor’s Office to demand the funds be released. As reports of
denials, of new “consent forms”, and other b.s. from caseworkers come
in from across the city, it’s clear the fight continues.

Even more, we must win the real basis of the campaign, which is
getting the benefit to everyone who receives welfare or disability
payments. The vast majority of people who need the special diet to
get by are clearly not accessing it, if we consider that there are
approximately 140 000 on social assistance or disability in Toronto,
but only about 10,000 receiving the supplement (a 67% increase since
the start of this campaign.) There are approximately 760 000 people
in Ontario who rely on the Provinces inadequate welfare and disability

That is why OCAP argues the emphasis must be placed on building
community movements that are capable of forcing the Liberal government
to automatically give the $250 special diet allowance to every person
receiving social assistance in the province. This money must be made
available without reference to medical examination since the links
between the province’s paltry social assistance rates and ill health
are already clearly established.

by Jeff Shantz - Punching Out (NEFAC) Sunday, Aug 14 2005, 8:20pm
punchingout@nefac.net address: PO box 79538, 1995 Weston Rd., Toronto,
Ontario, M9N 3W9, Canada

This article is from the August issue of Strike! - A newsletter of
anarchist news and commentary published in Ontario, Canada.

To download a pdf file of the newsletter go to:


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