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 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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

Opinion

Published on 23/03/2018

Our current income security system is failing to meet Ontario’s needs. As we get closer to the provincial election on June 7, we need to hear from party leaders about income security, a critical issue in need of urgent attention.

Our existing income security system is failing to meet Ontario’s needs. It is falling short on adequacy, design, and delivery. It is burdensome for governments to administer and for recipients to navigate. It undermines the economic growth of the province. In the long term, the costs of maintaining this status quo are far greater than […]

Read more

Submission

Published on 10/01/2018

Submission to the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding Income Security: A Roadmap for Change

Submission to the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding Income Security: A Roadmap for Change In November 2017, the Ontario government released Income Security: A Roadmap for Change, a report by three expert working groups on reforming social assistance and the broader income security system in the province. The report offers recommendations for increasing […]

Read more