Income security

Income security overview

Our work on income security includes mapping current public policy systems that are intended to promote opportunity and provide a social safety net, and understanding where those systems are working well, where they are under pressure, and where we have gaps. We also work to identify policy solutions and convene conversations to improve our social safety net.

  • Social Assistance Summaries: Series that tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory.
  • Welfare in Canada: Reports that look at the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance (often called “welfare”), taking into account tax credits and other benefits along with social assistance itself.
  • Financial security: outlines three policy-ready ideas to increase financial security of low- and modest-income families in Canada.
  • COVID-19 crisis: Resources and responses: providing resources and ideas to governments and organizations working on policy solutions that support people living in poverty during the crisis and in the long term.

Relevant publications

Policy backgrounder

Published on 26/08/2020

The recovery package announced by the federal government on August 20 should be welcome news for provincial and territorial governments. They should now reinvest the savings from the federally-funded EI changes in social assistance recipients.

On August 20, Canadians got the answer to one of the most pressing questions for millions of people across the country—what happens when the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ends? The government intends to introduce legislation to strengthen and expand Employment Insurance (EI). To qualify, workers will have to have worked at least 120 hours […]

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Policy backgrounder

Published on 13/05/2020

This policy backgrounder provides an overview of how provincial and territorial governments have decided to treat receipt of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

CERB and its interactions with provincial and territorial social assistance and subsidized housing programs and youth aging out of care This policy backgrounder provides an overview of how provincial and territorial governments have decided to treat receipt of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for those receiving social assistance and/or living in subsidized housing. It […]

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Opinion

Published on 30/04/2020

The pursuit of a dignified, simple, and adequate social safety net in response to COVID-19 requires building and strengthening public services, systems, and income supports at the same time. We may risk too much if we focus on a single solution at the expense of everything else.

That the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the cracks in our social safety net has become a truism. What people living in poverty and those working on the front lines of community service have known for years has now become impossible for the wider society to ignore. We’re in a moment now where we agree that […]

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Opinion

Published on 21/04/2020

COVID-19 has made the challenge of making ends meet much greater for those already in poverty. This includes the 75,000 workers in Ontario who receive social assistance.

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have spared few in our province. Amongst the hardest hit are people living in poverty receiving social assistance. Being able to pay for a full glass of orange juice has gotten just that much harder. For the poor, the cost of living has increased substantially. The closure of many food […]

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Opinion

Published on 28/11/2019

The Ontario government could have used the 2019 Fall Economic Statement to demonstrate that it was re-orienting its priorities on social assistance and poverty. Instead, the government’s silence on them spoke volumes.

It’s a cold evening in November, and the following scenarios are playing out repeatedly in communities across Ontario: Homeless shelters are at maximum capacity, unable to serve all of the people who are seeking refuge from the bitter cold. Emergency departments in hospitals are buzzing and beeping throughout the night, trying to keep up with […]

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Opinion

Published on 27/09/2019

Analyzing two competing policy proposals that the Liberal and Conservative parties have put forward regarding Employment Insurance maternity and parental leave benefits during the 2019 federal election.

If you were tasked with deciding how best to spend over $1 billion in public funding for families with children, what sorts of questions would you ask to develop or assess a policy proposal? Would you want to know if the policy design is effective? Would you want to know if it is well targeted? […]

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