2024 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission: Bold Investments Needed to Reduce Poverty

Social Planning Toronto calls on the Government of Ontario to make bold investments in the 2024 Budget to reduce the prevalence of poverty and its effects. To ensure that Ontario is a place where everyone can thrive and prosper, we recommend that the 2024 Budget focus on five key areas: improving social assistance, prioritizing decent work, investing in affordable housing and child care, and supporting municipal finances.

1. Improve the adequacy of social assistance and expand access

Ontario’s two main social assistance programs, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, should guarantee a basic standard of living. Regretfully, benefit rates have remained too low, and keep recipients in poverty.

We recommend that the Government of Ontario:

  • Immediately double Ontario Works (OW) rates and index to inflation annually.
  • Immediately double Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates.
  • Raise the earnings exemption for OW recipients to $1000 to match ODSP.
  • End clawbacks on current federal income supports.
  • Collaborate with the Federal Government in the design of the Canada Disability Benefit to ensure ODSP recipients are automatically eligible, that the benefit amount brings ODSP recipients 30% above the official poverty line, and that benefits are not clawed back for ODSP recipients who receive the Canada Disability Benefit.
  • Ensure access to social assistance to all people who live in Ontario, regardless of immigration status.

2. Prioritize decent work

Access to full-time, permanent jobs, fair wages, and health and retirement benefits is essential for reducing poverty. Unfortunately, too many workers don't earn the hourly wage needed to cover their basic expenses and too few have access to benefits, including paid sick days.

We recommend that the Government of Ontario:

  • Mandate a $20/hour minimum wage, with a plan to increase it to $25/hour, and protect the existing legislated annual wage adjustment so wages keep up with rising prices.
  • Amend the Employment Standards Act to provide 10 paid sick days, plus 14 additional days during a public health crisis.
  • Introduce a provincial community benefits strategy by working with local community benefit networks across Hamilton, London, Niagara, Peel, Toronto, and Ottawa, that embeds community benefit agreements in all major public infrastructure and housing development projects and facilitates progress in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #92.

3. Protect and invest in affordable housing

For many households, unaffordable housing is top of mind and accounts for the largest single expense. According to the 2021 Census, 24% of all Ontario households spend 30% or more of their income on shelter costs.

We recommend that the Government of Ontario:

  • Apply rent control to all buildings, including those built since 2018.
  • Implement vacancy control to ensure that rents aren’t raised substantially between tenancies and the financial incentive for renovictions and demovictions is removed.
  • Invest in and incentivize the development of non-market rental housing including social housing, Indigenous housing, nonprofits, co-ops and land trusts to eliminate the province’s waitlist for affordable housing.
  • Work with the federal government to urgently scale up investments in the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program and commit to providing at least 3,100 new allocations per year in Toronto.
  • Provide consistent and predictable long-term funding to preserve existing deeply affordable housing and supportive housing options offered by nonprofit and public housing providers. 
  • Protect government-owned land for deeply affordable, non-market rental housing, rather than selling it to private developers.
  • Increase investments to homelessness prevention programs.
  • Continue investing in annual funding to provide Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate long-term housing solutions and support services to Indigenous people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
  • Fund housing stabilization and eviction prevention supports for vulnerable tenants.

4. Increase provincial funding for child care

Equitable access to affordable child care in local neighbourhoods supports positive child development and contributes to reducing poverty by enabling parents to participate in the labour market. Although the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) plan is making progress in this area, in Toronto and across Ontario, many child care operators face uncertain financial times in the face of this transition and struggle to hire and retain qualified staff.

We recommend that the Government of Ontario:

  • Immediately increase its general operating funding by at least $500 million and provide predictable, year-over-year increases tied to inflation.
  • Cancel the planned cut of $85.5 million and cost-share changes imposed on municipalities.
  • Implement a needs-based funding formula that provides full and sufficient public funding for licensed child care programs.
  • Match federal spending on the child care workforce and collaborate on the development of a regional early years and child care salary scale.
  • Increase capital funding for child care spaces.
  • Increase the allocation of CWELCC-funded spaces for Toronto by an additional 7,269 spaces to align with the City’s Childcare Growth Strategy targets.

5. Support municipal finances

As the level of government closest to the people, municipalities are often on the frontlines responding to poverty and inequality. They are responsible for designing and delivering many services and programs that residents rely on. Yet, every year municipalities are asked to do more with less and their ability to generate revenue to pay for these services is severely limited, including as a result of Bill 23 and the impact on collecting development charges.

We recommend that the Government of Ontario:

  • Provide sufficient and stable funding to local governments to pay for municipal delivery of provincial programs, such as child care, public health, and affordable housing.
  • Increase authorities of local governments to access new revenue sources, such as a portion of the Provincial Sales Tax or Provincial Income Tax, to further offset municipal budgetary shortfalls, including the gap left by Bill 23, and adequately finance much needed local services.


Residents of Ontario deserve a budget that supports the people, especially those most marginalized and experiencing — or on the brink of — poverty. We envision a 2024 provincial budget that makes meaningful strides to address the affordability crisis by raising the incomes of those on social assistance, providing more decent work opportunities, making housing affordable now and in the future, and investing in a child care system that is sustainable and accessible to all. To ensure that municipalities are equipped to tackle poverty in all its forms, access to new revenue tools is paramount.

Read the full details of Social Planning Toronto’s 2024 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission.


Thanks to our partners who also put forward pre-budget submissions and policy analysis, and inspired parts of our work. Learn more about these and other budget recommendations from our partners and add your voice on important campaigns.

Pre-Budget Submissions

ACORN - 2024 Provincial Pre-budget Submission

Income Security Advocacy Centre - Ontario Pre-Budget Submission 2024: An Opportunity to Change Course

OCASI - OCASI Pre-Budget Submission - Ontario 2024

Ontario Nonprofit Network - Pre-Budget Submission 2024


Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario - Say Yes to Fair Rents

Toronto Community for Better Child Care - Child Care TO Petition: Save It, Fund It, Build It!


Photo by DXR, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cropped from original

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