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OCAP fights for diet supplements

OCAP fights for diet supplements
by Jeff Shantz

Recently the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) was alerted to the little known provision that allows for people receiving Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) assistance to apply for up to $250 as a nutritional dietary supplement if a medical professional deems it necessary. This supplement is available to cover some of the costs for items such as vitamin and mineral supplements, iron rich foods, a high fiber diet and extra calories. Dietary deficiencies are a common problem facing poor people as limited budgets cannot cover the costs of a nutritional diet while providing for other necessities like clothing and shelter.

Everyone on OW or ODSP should be entitled to the full $250 monthly supplement without having to be examined by a medical professional. The health problems facing people are so pressing that the full diet supplement should be released immediately. Many people in poor communities across Ontario do not have regular access to a health care worker, having to rely on impersonal ‘drive-thru’ service at drop-in clinics.

In the meantime, OCAP and medical workers have set up a series of clinics across Toronto to process forms and assist OW and ODSP recipients in applying for the supplement. Already more than 700 people have been able to access the supplement as a direct result of the clinics, and the campaign is growing rapidly. This will see the government pay out over a million dollars to poor people in the province.

As nurse Kathy Hardill notes: “Giving the full special diet benefit to all social assistance recipients won’t solve poverty in Ontario”. Indeed, poverty won’t be solved under capitalism at all. We won’t be able to truly end poverty until we replace the system that produces it.

For this to happen the campaign must both expand at the base, with more people joining the fight, as well as radicalize through collective mass actions.

The Special Diet campaign can only be one part of a larger campaign demanding that the government raise social assistance rates by 40%, an increase that would restore the cuts while increasing the rates to a level consistent with inflation over the last decade. As well the brutally low social assistance rates and the poverty-assuring minimum wage are linked in the broader attack on workers and must be fought together.

Incredibly the Liberal government could have honoured its pledge to index social assistance to the cost of living for around $110 million. That amount is substantially less than the $400 million the Liberal government gave Casino Windsor in February for a planned expansion.

Social movements must bring together employed and unemployed, unionized and non-unionized workers together to make it impossible for governments to carry out such policies. Poor people cannot rely on any government to provide a decent living since governments exist to aid and protect the rich. Our campaigns must build a collective power that can defeat the capitalists and their governments.

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This article was from:

Strike!
anarchist news and commentary
coming out of Toronto.
vol.1, issue 1(of this ontario-based edition)
a publication of:
Punching Out, a collective of workers, unionists,'unemployed', & mothers, teachers & students...

Punching Out is an autonomous member collective of NEFAC
(northeastern federation of anarchist communists)

for more info, or to contribute(!), contact:

P.O. Box 79538
1995 Weston Rd
Toronto, ON
M9N 3W9

To download the 4 page pdf of the issue go to: