In the 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Ontario government committed to reviewing social assistance, with a focus on removing barriers and increasing opportunities for people to work. It subsequently appointed the Social Assistance Review Advisory Council to provide advice on a proposed scope for the review. Taking into account the advice of this Council, on November 30, 2010, the government announced the appointment of Frances Lankin and Munir A. Sheikh to lead the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance inOntario.
The Commission is tasked with carrying out a comprehensive review, and in June 2012 providing the government with specific recommendations and a concrete action plan for reforming the social assistance system.
Outcomes of the Review
The Terms of Reference for the Commission identify five specific outcomes for the review. Specifically, it indicates that “the review will make recommendations that will enable government to:
- Establish an appropriate benefit structure that reduces barriers and supports people’s transition into, and attachment within, the labour market
- Place reasonable expectations on, and provide supports for, people who rely on social assistance with respect to active engagement in the labour market and participation in treatment and rehabilitation
- Simplify income and asset rules to improve equity and make it easier to understand and administer social assistance
- Ensure the long-term viability of the social assistance system
- Define Ontario’s position vis-à-vis the federal and municipal governments as it relates to income security for Ontarians.”