In 2010, the province the established Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario, led by Commissioners Francis Lankin and Munir A. Sheikh. The Commission’s Terms of Reference are to:
- Establish an appropriate benefit structure that reduces barriers and supports people’s transition into, and attachment within, the labour market
- Place reasonable expectations on, and provide supports for, people who rely on social assistance with respect to active engagement in the labour market and participation in treatment and rehabilitation
- Simplify income and asset rules to improve equity and make it easier to understand and administer social assistance
- Ensure the long-term viability of the social assistance system
- Define Ontario’s position vis-à-vis the federal and municipal governments as it relates to income security for Ontarians.
The Wellesley Institute was part of a broad partnership of health sector leaders that came together to ensure that health and health equity are emphasized in the review. Our submission sets out a range of recommendations that would create a health-enabling social assistance system, including the development of a basket of essential supports, providing enhanced opportunities for workforce participation and training that reflect individual need and capacity, and enhanced policy coordination and alignment across government.
I’ll be blogging over the next few weeks about our submission and how changes to the social assistance system need to take health and health equity into account, starting tomorrow with a piece about the connections between income and poor health and what it means that people on social assistance are amongst the poorest in our society.