CAW Calls on Ontario Government to Reinstate Special Diet Allowance

April 23, 2010, 3:30 PM EST

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CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on the Ontario Government to reconsider the decision to cancel the Special Diet Allowance program, offered to people receiving Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support.

As part of the 2010 budget, the Ontario government announced it would cancel the $200 million program and replace it with a "nutritional supplement" program which will help only people with severe medical needs, not those who need special dietary treatment to manage conditions and prevent worse health.

The Special Diet Allowance was intended to help people on social assistance who require a special diet because of a medical condition.

"Like other Ontarians who invested hope in the government's poverty reduction strategy, I am shocked and disappointed by this decision," said Lewenza in a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"Taking $200 million out of the pockets of the poorest members of Ontario communities is a set back to the government's own poverty reduction strategy."

Lewenza said that the link between poverty and poor health has already been proven.  People living on low incomes are much more likely to have serious health issues, including twice the rate of diabetes, a 60 per cent higher chance of chronic health problems, three times the rate of bronchitis and twice the rate of arthritis.

Scrapping the program is a terrible mistake, according to Lewenza. While government points to abuse of the program as the reason for cancelling it, Lewenza said that entire programs are not usually cancelled because of abuse.  He pointed to the e-Health program which was rife with financial mismanagement.

"The government didn't cancel the e-Health program. That's because there's still a need for it."

To read the entire letter, please visit:

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