The Hardship Fund is a municipal program that provides essential medical supports to people who do not receive social assistance, but who have very low or precarious incomes. The Fund meets the needs of residents where the cost of medical items would cause undue financial hardship. Supports and services that are covered include vision care, emergency dental care, reimbursement of prescription drug costs, and funeral costs.
But, once again, the Hardship Fund is in line to be cut.
The program was originally eliminated in the City of Toronto’s 2012 budget, but Councillors stepped in and directed that it be continued until the end of 2012. Then, in July and without warning, the City quietly cut the Hardship Fund, only to reverse their decision the next day. Now, unless Council provides new direction, the Fund will cease at the end of December.
Eliminating the Hardship Fund will have unfair and inequitable health impacts on the most vulnerable and marginalized Torontonians. Those who will be most negatively affected are people in precarious and low-paid work, recent immigrants, people who are homeless or poorly-housed, and people living with disabilities but who do not receive ODSP.
The Mayor’s Executive Committee will be discussing this issue on Tuesday. We are calling on Council to ensure that the Hardship Fund is fully funded in the 2013 municipal budget and that the City continues to operate the program consistent with current guidelines.
You can read the Wellesley Institute’s deputation to the Executive Committee here.