What is Clawback?
Clawback refers to the government actively taking earned wages away from individuals on social assistance, i.e. Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The maximum monthly allowance for one person on ODSP is only $1,110, and for someone on OW it is only $681. This amount is intended to support rent, utilities, and basic living costs, such as food and medication. With that in mind, OW and ODSP allotments clearly do not match the cost of living in downtown Toronto on their own. However, many individuals on social assistance who attempt to find work to supplement their monthly allowance face clawback. Clawback kicks in for anyone who earns more than $200 a month — 50 cents per every dollar earned over this amount is taken away. Besides being a major disincentive to work, many individuals on social assistance are also forced to use emergency food programs and food banks. Unfortunately, most food banks are only able to provide small amounts of food, and moreover individuals usually do not have a choice as to what they receive. As a result, people who must attend food banks eat what they are given, which may not be culturally appropriate, easy to prepare, or healthy. This cycle of clawback and food insecurity traps many individuals in Ontario, including residents of Parkdale.