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Province tweaking welfare rules

Ontario’s social services minister is tweaking four welfare rules in the wake of outrage over the elimination in last Thursday’s budget of a special food allowance that helps one in five people on social assistance pay extra food costs related to medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Ontario’s social services minister is tweaking four welfare rules in the wake of outrage over the elimination in last Thursday’s budget of a special food allowance that helps one in five people on social assistance pay extra food costs related to medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

The province is instead developing a new nutritional supplement program focused on those with severe medical needs.

Under proposed changes to gifts, the province would “provide some direction” to allow people on welfare to accept modest amounts of cash or goods.

The other welfare rule changes underway would shorten the welfare suspension period to one month from three months for a recipient who breaks a rule for the first time; allow people to use financial windfalls to pay down a student loan or other government debt without losing eligibility for welfare; and change the shelter allowance calculation for people who share accommodation to reflect the actual cost of what they are paying.