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(en) Canada, Linchpin anarchist Newspaper April 2010 - Cut to Special Diet isn't about health By Ann Stuart

Date Sat, 10 Apr 2010 05:39:59 +0300

Rally against the previous cuts to the Special Diet. Photo: OCAP ---- When the Ontario government slashed the Special Diet supplement to Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) in the budget, the reason given was that it was not being used for it's “intended purpose” and that many applications were “questionable”. Their solution? A new nutritional allowance administered by the Ministry of Health, only for people with "serious" health issues. ---- The rates for OW and ODSP are unlivable and make it difficult for recipients to afford food of any type, let alone fresh, nutritious, varied food that helps support long-term health. If it were about health everyone on social assistance would be entitled to Special Diet - and more.

But it isn't about health. We know what encourages good health: consistent access to quality food, decent housing, safe working conditions, access to health care and a healthy broader environment.

None of these appear to be priorities for the Ontario government. Consider the program to offer free emergency dental care to low-income children. If the issue was health, both preventative and emergency care would be free for adults and children. Untreated cavities can case cardiac problems in the long term and intense pain immediately.

If the government cared about health, it would address poverty in a serious way - not with an insulting 1% raise. That's almost enough to take one round-trip ride on the TTC a month for people living in Toronto!

What is the cut to the Special Diet really about? Largely, it is about enforcing a split between “deserving” and undeserving poor. It is about stopping working and poor people from standing up against low pay and unsafe working conditions because losing a job means extreme poverty. It is a show of power to everyone who got the word out about the Special Diet and fought for their rights. It is a message to others who would do the same; we are willing to take away the most basic things you need to survive - do not fuck with us.

We need to show that this attempt to create divisions among poor and working class people will not work. The government is trying to frame this as undeserving poor people "ruining" the Special Diet for “deserving” poor people with illnesses. We need a response that shows the solidarity of all poor and working class people.

People in Toronto should come out to the community meeting on April 9, as well as the mobilization on April 15. Looking forward, we need to build a community mobilization, focusing on clear, direct issues that affect people in Ontario.
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