The 2012 Ontario budget will not be kind to people on social assistance. While much of the focus has been on the Liberals’ decision to freeze rates on Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), another item on the budget is equally cruel: the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) will be cut.
CSUMB is a mandatory benefit for all recipients of OW and ODSP. It is either used to pay rental arrears and prevent eviction or to help pay the first and last months’ deposit on a new apartment. In some cases, tenants have been issued CSUMB to pay for heating and other basic utilities. Recipients without dependents get a maximum payment of $799 every two years, while those with children receive $1,500. This is no small amount for people who are in dire financial need.
The Liberals have said that CSUMB is not being cut, but “transferred” to the Ministry of Housing, where it will be administered as part of the long-term affordable hosing strategy. This is disingenuous. Only half of the funding will be available and even then, there is no clear picture how the program will be maintained. The budget stated that the new version of CSUMB will provide housing supports to people even if they are not on social assistance. This translates to half as much money available to a much larger group of people.
It doesn’t add up.