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Table 3 below compares total income for some types of households on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program with three of the most commonly used low-income standards.

Table 3 : total income from all sources compared to common poverty measures for selected households on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program Toronto April 2010
Household Total income Percent of common poverty measures for Toronto
After tax low-income measure After tax low-income cut-off Market Basket Measure
Ontario Works
Single adult $7,878 ($16,810) 47% ($18,930) 42% ($16,642) 47%
Two adult couple $13,669 ($23,534) 58% ($23,039) 60% ($23,298) 57%
Lone parent - one child $18,351 ($23,534) 78% ($23,039) 80% ($23,298) 79%
Lone parent - two children $23,384 ($28,578) 82% ($28,688) 82% ($28,292) 83%
Two adult - one child $20,141 ($28,578) 70% ($28,688) 70% ($28,292) 71%
Ontario Disability Support Program
Single adult $13,362 ($16,810) 80% ($18,930) 71% ($16,642) 80%
Two adult couple $20,557 ($23,534) 87% ($23,039) 89% ($23,298) 88%
Lone parent - one child $24,795 ($23,534) 105% ($23,039) 108% ($23,298) 106%
Lone parent - two children $29,996 ($28,578) 105% ($28,688) 105% ($28,292) 106%
Two adult - one child $27,197 ($28,578) 95% ($28,688) 95% ($28,292) 96%

Source and assumptions: Calculations by Social Assistance Review Advisory Council; two adult couple on Disability Support assumes one with disability; one child under 6; two children one under 6 and one over 6; no earned or other income; Low income measure from 2007 up-dated to 2010 by CPI; Low income cut-off from 2008 updated to 2010 by CPI; Market Basket Measure from 2007 up-dated to 2010 by CPI. The Market Basket Measure and the low-income cut-off are geographically specific. We chose Toronto as the highest cost and most populous region in Ontario. The poverty measures listed do not take account of the additional costs of disability and so overstate the relative financial position of the Ontario Disability Support Program.

“With the first wave of the wand I would like to increase the income of social assistance recipients. When one has to expend that much energy to juggle their every expense on the four basic tenets of food, housing, clothing and transportation the stress on one’s health and the economy is tremendous.” – Ontario Disability Support Program recipient, Toronto

Some households, especially those with children, are not far off poverty standards. While some Ontario Disability Support Program families are closer to or above the poverty line, the additional costs of living with a disability must be taken into account in assessing the adequacy of living standards.

Single unattached individuals and couples on Ontario Works are in especially straitened circumstances. For a single person living in non-subsidized housing in one of Ontario’s major cities, it is barely if at all possible to live on the amount available through Ontario Works and the few available tax credits.

For this reason the Social Assistance Review Advisory Council recommends that government address with urgency the need to improve the incomes of unattached individuals and couples without children on Ontario Works. The government has a number of options for immediately increasing the incomes of unattached individuals and couples without children, through new tax credits, Ontario Works rates or a new housing benefit. As we shall recommend later in this report, a well-designed housing benefit for all low-income households that includes substantial gains for the incomes of those on social assistance would provide the next step towards comprehensive transformation of Ontario’s income security system.