Do not Abandon People on ODSP and OW. Act now!

by Kiri Vadivelu
On Saturday, September 18, 2021, a small crowd rallied in Toronto at the Yonge and Dundas intersection calling for an end to discriminatory funding to ODSP and OW programs. POOF Protecting ODSP OW Funding is a community group striving to end Homelessness and Poverty for people on ODSP, Ontario Disability Support Program and OW, Ontario Works benefits. The event organizer, Isabella Gamk, said that people on ODSP and OW benefits are abandoned by all 3 levels of Canadian Government and left to fend for themselves with less than a livable income support. Sadly, the City of Toronto has no tangible plans to help marginalized people living on a poverty income. 
 Average Market Rent for a Room in Toronto is needed when 93% of OW clients DO NOT actually live in Subsidized Housing according to the Income Security Advocacy Center. Rooms start at $800.00 per month, but the OW Rent/Shelter Allowance is only $390.00 per month per single client. 88% of ODSP clients DO NOT live in Subsidized Housing according to ISAC and face the same problem with single clients only getting $497.00 for a Shelter Allowance/Rent. Isabella asked how can any human being already disadvantaged Socially and Economically afford to live in the city with any Dignity and Respect? She recalled that several people she knew who were on the ODSP and OW benefits are no longer alive, having either committed suicide or died early due to poor health, living standards and a loss of hope. The question remains how politicians in power are able to get away with such disgraceful treatment of people they supposedly serve in the city. 
Recently, Homeless people who lived in the Encampments at Trinity Bellwoods Park and near Lamport Stadium were violently removed by city of Toronto Police Services and charged with various offenses. Jon Sanderson, who runs a YouTube channel called The Canadian Commie, said to the crowd, “Instead of Housing the Homeless people, our City spent over 2 million dollars to violently remove the people from the parks with no permanent Housing Solutions”. To add insult to injury, police also charged many Encampment Workers, Social Support Staff and Community Activists, who defended people from police violence, with numerous dubious charges including ‘obstructing a peace officer.’
Barry Weisleder, federal secretary of Socialist Action, expressed solidarity with protesters at the POOF rally.  He assured that under a Workers’ Government everyone will have food, housing, medical care and decent living conditions.  He said that capitalism is the Root Cause of the Social and Economic Injustices to people — particularly those who come from Marginalized Communities. Several Social Science Academics from University of Toronto and Ryerson echoed this view that, profit system greed does not prioritize the Basic Necessities of Humanity, and growing Wealth Inequality is unsustainable. 
An ODSP Action Coalition, Rally 4 Disabled, protest rally will take place on September 28 at 12 noon at Queen’s Park in front of the Ontario Legislature.POOF Protecting ODSP OW Funding is holding its next street blocking protest in downtown Toronto on October 13, 2021.The ‘It’s Time To End Poverty!’ protest will block Yonge Street just north of College from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm to protest the ODSP OW, Minimum Wage and Seniors benefits being too low, resulting in increased numbers who are homeless. Dress warmly.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the ODSP Action Coalition have a Raise the Rates Protest in downtown Toronto on October 21, 2021. Details to follow.