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TORONTO, Ont. – On Remembrance Day the Ontario Liberal government quietly announced pay raises of between $16,000 and $49,000 for 29 MPP who will become parliamentary assistants to a slimmed down Ontario cabinet of just 22 members.
"By this bold signal that the austerity agenda stops at Ontario's borders, the Liberal caucus sends a message of hope to the poorest in Ontario," said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/ Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). "These increases of between 14 per cent and 42 per cent would make such an enormous difference if they were also applied to people receiving social assistance and disability benefits."
The 29 parliamentary assistants will receive an additional $16,667 on top of an MPP's salary of $116,000. The whip will receive an additional $21,000 and cabinet members an additional $49,000, also on a base salary of $116,000. Only 1 of 53 Liberal MPPs will not receive a substantial increase, making this an unprecedented announcement in its scope. Effectively, 98 per cent of the Liberal caucus has been reclassified and given a pay raise.
"People on social assistance cannot remember the time they last ate until they were full. The health of tens of thousands of children is being seriously compromised through ongoing malnourishment. It is time to raise the rates of assistance and disability," Hurley said.
Social assistance paid a single person $663 a month in 1994. In December 2011 it will pay $599. With a room in a major Ontario city costing $400 a month, single social assistance recipients have $6.60 a day for all necessities of life. 474,000 women, children and men receive Ontario Works benefits and 397,000 receive Ontario disability benefits.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Hurley President, OCHU/CUPE (416) 884-0770
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 559-9300