Publications, opinions, and speeches
Ensuring the success of Ontario’s vision for social assistance transformation
Published on 22/03/2021
Comments on and analysis of Recovery & Renewal: Ontario’s Vision for Social Assistance Transformation.
In February 2021, Ontario’s Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) released Recovery & Renewal: Ontario’s Vision for Social Assistance Transformation. The paper focuses on how service delivery changes across the social services sector could help people receiving social assistance address barriers to employment and access the benefits they need for their well-being.
This policy brief provides an overview of MCCSS’ vision paper and analyzes the opportunities and challenges associated with the changes that the Ontario government is envisioning. It is slightly adapted from a briefing note that Maytree submitted to the ministry on this issue.
The overall vision that MCCSS has laid out for service delivery transformation is encouraging. However, it is important to recognize that the vision set out in the paper can only be realized if meaningful investments are made in public services. To that end, it does not appear that the government of Ontario has a plan to enable the vision’s success. There is only so much progress and fiscal room that can be made through streamlining administrative processes.
It is also important to add that the focus of the vision paper is only on service delivery changes, and the government does not comment on the inadequacy of rates provided through social assistance. It is our contention that a meaningful transformation of social assistance cannot rely on one part of the system alone.
Just as the focus on service delivery changes is overdue and necessary, the rates also need to be increased to help ensure that people receiving social assistance can live a life with dignity. While we agree that the services provided to people living in poverty are integral to their well-being, we will continue to push for an increase in social assistance rates.
Given the high-level nature of the vision paper, there are many details that need to be resolved before any reforms can succeed. These include:
- Alignment in legislation and regulation between different policy and program areas to enable collaboration and integration;
- Funding for services;
- Human resource impacts;
- Funding implications for municipalities; and, most importantly,
- Implications for people living in poverty.
MCCSS’ ability to realize the vision laid out in the paper depends on how these details are resolved. The ministry also needs to engage with people receiving social assistance and other stakeholders as it undertakes its reforms.