Green Party promises to double welfare and disability rates

A Green government would declare war on poverty by doubling welfare and disability advantages if elected June 2.

Green Leader Mike Schreiner unveiled the party’s fully costed campaign platform Thursday with some ambitious goals to assist Ontario’s most vulnerable people.

Schreiner said his party would “phase in a basic income with step one being to double Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) rates and reduce aggressive clawbacks” to help the needy.

“Poverty is crushing on this province straight away. We’ve literally legislated poverty,” he told a gathering of the Star editorial board Thursday.

To assist tackle the issue, the Greens would spend some $20 billion on increasing ODSP and OW payments, which could be eventually tied to inflation.

That’s by far the biggest commitment of any of the 4 major parties.

ODSP currently pays as much as $1,169 monthly.

Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner says the party’s ideas are what the province needs to fulfill the challenges of climate change as he unveils their costed election platform. Schreiner was the party’s only elected member before the campaign began but desires to grow his caucus. (May 12 / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

In a surprise move on Monday, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said he would raise ODSP rates by five per cent — though that $425 million promise was not accounted for in Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s April 28 budget.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath would immediately boost OW and ODSP rates by 20 per cent and has said she would “legislate that raises must, at minimum, be indexed to inflation.”

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said if he wins, ODSP and OW advantages would increase by 10 per cent on July 1 and one other 10 per cent one 12 months later before levelling off at two per cent hikes annually as of 2024.

Like Schreiner, each Horwath and Del Duca have vowed to resurrect Ontario’s basic income pilot project that Ford scrapped in 2018 despite a campaign promise that 12 months to maintain it.

The Green platform also makes a slew of environmental pledges, including “money incentives as much as $10,000 for getting a completely electric vehicle and $1,000 for an e-bike or used electric vehicle.”

Schreiner said it makes economic sense to subsidize electric cars and bikes.

“It cost me about $5 to charge my electric vehicle (overnight) and … $10 to $15 to charge it at a high-speed charger,” he said of his Chevrolet Bolt.

“Meanwhile, individuals are spending tons of of dollars or more, filling their cars up with gasoline.”

In his meeting with the Star, the Green leader was candid about what victory would appear like for his fourth-place party on June 2.

“I’d like to form government because I feel, of the 4 leaders on offer, I’d make one of the best premier,” said Schreiner.

“But I also am pretty honest with folks that it’s highly unlikely we’ll go from one seat to forming government,” he said of the 124-seat legislature.

“So, for us, our objective is to bring a caucus of Greens to Queen’s Park — I feel realistically that is probably going somewhere between perhaps one to a few to 4 seats.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star doesn’t endorse these opinions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here