The goal of this paper for Ontario360 is to provide advice on how the Government of Ontario can undertake social assistance reform that both improves outcomes for Ontarians with low incomes and is consistent with the government’s priorities. This report provides several key recommendations for social assistance reform:

  1. Reduce unnecessary reporting and monitoring – complicated definitions, red tape, and other reporting and monitoring burdens produce inefficiencies for individuals and the government and do not contribute to the overall goal of helping people transition into work
  2. Improve the adequacy of benefits – enhancing benefits could come in different forms including increasing base benefits, adding additional cash benefits tailored to specific needs and circumstances or providing other assistance with costs or services in the broader social safety net
  3. Reduce the cost of working while on social assistance – smoothing out clawback thresholds and rates is critical to incentivizing participation in the workforce
  4. Expand transitional health benefits beyond the social assistance system – pilot an extended, auto-enrolled programs for clients exiting Ontario Works to continue receiving access to health benefits in order to see how it affects attachment to the workforce
  5. Respond to housing cost differences in different parts of the province – use the new Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit to provide place-based housing supports that recognize costs difference in different parts of the province
  6. Use digital and streamlined services to make it easier to access support – digital options for accessing client information and delivering benefits can reduce red tape for individuals and produce efficiencies for government
  7. Outcomes-based funding that focuses on people’s success – the social assistance system must focus resources on outcome-based metrics including for employment supports and broader support programming

Read the full report.