I AM very disturbed about our acceptance of the gross mistreatment of people who have fallen on hard times. As a community, as a province, we passively accept a social assistance system that denies people enough to meet basic needs and shelter.

For example, single people who cannot get a job at this point in time, receive a monthly Ontario Works cheque that falls nearly $200 per month short of money for a bachelor apartment and nutritious food. That doesn’t count clothing, hygiene products, laundry etc. At Christmas there is a warm fuzzy hype to help “the needy” with a piece of clothing and food for a week. Yet we are the ones who keep people vulnerable because we don’t give them enough to live on until they get back on their feet.

At Kathleen Wynne’s town hall on Wednesday night, an older man in the audience told the premier how difficult it was to get by on such a small cheque. He has to go to food banks. The premier assured him that in a couple of years, when they figure out the results of the Basic Income Pilot, they will understand what to do to enable people to get through to a better situation.

In a few years!

If you are in your 50s and your health is declining, why should you have to wait years for a new program? You could be half dead by then. An income of 60 per cent below the poverty line is a human crisis. If someone was drowning, you wouldn’t tell them that you will rescue them when you have spare money for a boat. All our politicians from every party should be demanding action now.

A substantial increase in social assistance benefits must be a 2018 budget priority. Just do it.

Sara Williamson

Thunder Bay

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