System transformation in Ontario Works: Considerations for Ontario

Posted on January 9, 2020 in Social Security Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – Publications
January 8,2020.   By Garima Talwar Kapoor

A new Maytree report looks at the possibilities and limitations of the Ontario government’s social assistance reforms, in particular changes to the employment and skills training offered to Ontario Works recipients.

In 2018, the Ontario government announced its plans to reform social assistance with the objective of developing a more effective approach to helping people find and keep jobs. While the government has repealed some early policy changes on the income support side of the program, there are also lesser known changes underway on the employment and training side of social assistance.

As part of its plans for reform, the government is introducing a new employment and training services model, which would introduce significant service changes for social assistance recipients. It is also proposing the introduction of “life stabilization” programming (or wrap-around supports as it is commonly referred to) for those who may not benefit from traditional employment or skills training until other concerns are addressed.

While the government is currently working to establish three pilot sites to test its proposed employment and training services model, the report argues that it is not clear that these changes will respond to the root causes that are leading people to require support from Ontario Works. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the proposed changes will lead to the types of outcomes the province is looking for. The changes could have unintended consequences — for the provincial government, for municipalities, and for social assistance recipients themselves.

Looking at lessons from jurisdictions that have already implemented similar reforms, in particular Australia and the UK, the paper outlines some key considerations and unresolved questions that the government will need to address before moving forward with its planned reforms.

Download the executive summary (PDF)

Access the report

System transformation in Ontario Works: Considerations for Ontario

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