The Halton District School Board has over the past several months passed two motions aimed at encouraging the Ontario provincial government to raise social assistance rates to more realistic levels.

The first motion calls on the Province to continue to issue both the back-to-school and the winter clothing allowances to social assistance recipients, which is changing under the new Ontario Child Benefit. HDSB realizes that “[w]hat is foreseeable is that any parent who doesn’t have the means or the ability to file a tax return, or who is not aware that it is also a requirement that their child be registered for the Canada Child Tax Benefit, will not receive the additional amounts intended for their children’s basic needs, including winter clothing and back to school supplies.”

The second motion requests that “the government’s poverty reduction strategy include social assistance rates which are based on the actual cost of rent and other basic necessities in the community where the recipients reside.” The Board goes on to state “When social assistance rates are inadequate, children of recipients come to school lacking the stability, resources and support they need to learn. Education is one of the most significant determinants of a child’s chances of escaping poverty. And yet the effects of an inadequate social safety net undermine a child’s ability to access the opportunity a public education provides.”

Both Motions have now been forwarded to all School Board Chairs in Ontario and will appear on the agenda of the AGM of the Ontario Public School Boards Association (‘O.P.S.B.A.’) as policy resolutions, to be considered on June 11.