Income security

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.

Relevant publications

Policy backgrounder

Published on 30/11/2018

On Thursday November 22, Minister MacLeod announced the outcome of Ontario’s 100-day review of social assistance. This short backgrounder explains what earnings exemptions are and what the proposed changes mean.

Download the backgrounder (PDF) On Thursday November 22, Minister MacLeod announced the outcome of Ontario’s 100-day review of social assistance. It included details of how earnings exemptions for social assistance recipients will change. This short backgrounder explains what earnings exemptions are and what the changes mean. What are earnings exemptions? Most social assistance programs withdraw […]

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Opinion

Published on 28/11/2018

The province's one-hundred-day social assistance review was more a series of directions or intentions rather than specific program changes. Many of the announced reforms are still too vague to assess. But some are problematic, writes Maytree Fellow Michael Mendelson.

Analysis of the just announced reforms to social assistance resulting from the Ontario government’s “one-hundred-day” review will have to wait until further details are made public. Many of the reforms are still too vague to assess. For example, the government promised to improve “employment services for people receiving social assistance, placing a greater focus on […]

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Policy brief

Published on 29/10/2018

As the Ontario government nears the end of a 100-day review of social assistance, we take a look at the UK's experience of a series of welfare reforms with similar goals.

Download the policy brief (PDF) The Ontario government is nearing the end of a 100-day review of social assistance and a plan that will “help get people back to work and keep them working, while supporting people with disabilities to work when they are able and participate in their communities.” It’s aiming to identify how […]

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Opinion

Published on 27/08/2018

The Ontario government should break the mould in welfare reform: instead of making social assistance conditional upon efforts to get work, conditions should be removed altogether.

Along with terminating Ontario’s Basic Income experiment and reducing planned increases in social assistance rates, the Ford government has announced plans to develop a transformed approach to social assistance in the next 100 days, one that “would be focused on jobs.” A “focus on jobs” usually translates into harsher conditions for social assistance recipients, more […]

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Article

Published on 30/07/2018

Changes to income support and replacement programs in Canada are often made by stealth. The complexity of the programs shields governments from criticism.

In 1990, I wrote an article for Policy Options titled “Social Policy by Stealth” under the pseudonym Grattan Gray. The article was a comprehensive critique of social and tax policy under the Mulroney government. In it, I characterized the concept of social policy by stealth: It relies heavily on technical amendments to taxes and transfers […]

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Policy brief

Published on 18/04/2018

Ontario’s income security system is failing to meet the needs of many Ontarians with low incomes. This briefing note outlines the core challenges that merit attention from the incoming government, and highlights near-term and longer-term responses.

Issue Ontario’s income security system is failing to meet the needs of many Ontarians with low incomes, contributing to increased poverty and lost opportunities. The incoming government faces decisions on the recommendations made by expert working groups in the Income Security Roadmap.[1] Overview: Income security in Ontario The provincial government is responsible for a wide […]

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