We have received word that the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario will be reporting to the government next week (*see update below). The Wellesley Institute, in partnership with leading health organizations in Toronto, engaged with the Commission throughout its process to ensure that opportunities for good health were included as a cornerstone of the social assistance system.
In 2010, the independent Social Assistance Review Advisory Council reported that Ontario “continues to fall short in providing an economic safety net for individuals and families as well as promoting opportunity to ensure everyone can contribute to the long-term prosperity of the province.”
The social assistance system traps people in poverty, which leads to poor health and other negative social outcomes. The Commission had an opportunity to address some of the worst poverty and inequality in Ontario and make all of us better off.
We will be looking for a number of things in the Commission’s report:
- A clear vision of a social assistance system that promotes dignity, equity, opportunity, and good health for all.
- Adequacy, so that people on social assistance can maintain a healthy standard of living. For example, being able to afford decent housing, transportation, and good food.
- Opportunities for people on social assistance to:
- Move into employment and training. This means finding work that meets peoples’ needs and focuses on their long-term economic security
- Participate in community life, by providing adequate support to enable people to engage with their communities and by valuing and supporting voluntary work.
- A system that puts people first. This means providing person-centered services based on what people on social assistance need to succeed. For example, providing supports that are appropriate for each individual, like career counselling, skills training, and support for newcomers.
- Ensuring that everyone is better off. Poverty costs us all and the Commission can make significant progress by setting out a system that supports those who are among the most vulnerable in Ontario.
More information about these five tests can be found here.
The Wellesley Institute will prepare a rapid response when the Commission releases its report, and this will be followed by more substantive commentary of specific aspects of the reforms.
*UPDATE: The Commission has now announced that their report will be released on October 24. Continue to watch this space!