Tim Hudak's welfare reforms: everything old is new again

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Toronto – January 22, 2013 – When it comes to Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak’s recently released white paper on welfare reform, the axiom that everything old is new again certainly applies. Most of the paper's proposals come from the mid-1990s when Hudak served as a junior minister in the Mike Harris government. This new paper makes it very clear that Hudak’s proposals are not only old and tired, but also extremely vague.

For example, one of Hudak's bright ideas is to claw back benefits for people who have been on welfare for "too long," but he has not explained how long people would have to be on benefits before they are reduced and how large of a reduction they would face. 

Hudak is also proposing to allow non-profits, charities, and the private sector to bid on contracts to administer social programs. In other words, he wants to privatize public services. But Hudak has not said how private sector firms – which are only concerned with making a profit – will be able to help our most vulnerable citizens better than government agencies.

Hudak is also proposing to integrate the welfare system with the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) so as to have a single income support program. This ODSP is an income support program for people who have suffered catastrophic injuries, or are suffering from long term illness or lifelong intellectual disabilities. The last thing that people on ODSP need is to be forced to work a job that they are incapable of performing while at the same time facing a possible reduction of benefits. Hudak is morally bankrupt if he believes that Ontario should try to save money on the backs of the disabled.

Finally, Hudak has said he wants to allow people who work while they are on welfare to keep more of their earned income as an incentive to get more people working and off social assistance. On the surface this sounds like a good plan but the big question is where are these jobs going to come from? 

In Hudak's white paper on job creation, he proposes to create jobs in Ontario by doling out more tax cuts to wealthy corporations.  We all know that this strategy does not work. Many will recall Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney chastising corporate executives last August for sitting on $500 billion of dead money that was largely gained through tax cuts. Instead of using this money to hire and train workers and invest in equipment upgrades, fat cat CEOs chose to keep billions to themselves while neglecting to drive economic growth through job creation. Surely Tim Hudak is not naive enough to believe that another round of corporate tax cuts will result in job creation for welfare recipients.