The 'Welfare Wall'
March 6, 2006
What is the 'Welfare Wall'?
The term 'Welfare Wall' is used by politicians and policy makers to refer to barriers they argue discourage people from leaving social assistance. Usually they are most concerned with the income differential between people receiving social assistance and those earning minimum wage. Put simply, the argument is that unless people earning minimum wage are financially better off than those on social assistance, a 'welfare wall' is created that acts as a disincentive to those on social assistance to find paid employment.
The loss of benefits such as drug and dental coverage when people leave social assistance are also deemed to be part of the so-called 'Welfare Wall.'
Many proponents of the clawback of the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) from families receiving social assistance insist the clawback is necessary in order to avoid raising the 'Welfare Wall.' They argue that if families on social assistance receive the NCBS they may be financially better off than working families and therefore, would not be motivated to find paid work. Clawing back the NCBS, they say, provides parents with an incentive to find paid work.
The concept of the 'Welfare Wall' is based on many faulty assumptions. If only escaping poverty was as easy as finding a job!
The truth is that 14.4%* of people in Ontario live in poverty. Most of these people are low-wage earners and/or receiving social assistance. Put simply, the poverty experienced by these people is the direct result of bad government policy that keeps both social assistance rates and the minimum wage dangerously low.
The truth is that the easiest and most just way to eradicate poverty is to raise social assistance rates and the minimum wage to levels which ensure a decent standard of living.
The truth is that poverty is not the result of the personal failings of those struggling to make ends meet, but the result of bad government policy that fails to adequately and fairly address the structural dysfunction of the current labour market.
New Petition added April 16, 2006
Please also sign the original Petition launched in February 2005 -- sadly only 1140 people have signed to date as at April 17, 2006..
Ending the clawback of the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) would make a big difference in the lives of families on social assistance. When youre already living below the poverty line, being able to keep the approximately $115 you get every month for each of your children would go a long way towards paying your bills. But thats not what happens.
Every month the federal government allows the Ontario government to clawback the NCBS from 163,726 children across the province simply because their parents are on social assistance. Its not right.
Get involved in the Hands Off! Campaign. Tell the federal and provincial governments to end the clawback immediately.
Source: Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)