Every year, millions of Ontario residents rely on income support from federal and provincial income programs including social assistance, Employment Insurance benefits, Canada Pension Plan benefits, Old Age Security, Workers Compensation and others. Pressure on these programs has grown as governments have reduced benefits, imposed stricter eligibility criteria and made access to programs more difficult. The burden of these restrictions has been carried disproportionately by the economically disadvantaged in Canadian society, including First Nations people, women, people with disabilities, recent immigrants to Ontario, youth, workers displaced by technological change, and others.
We have established, in partnership with Legal Aid Ontario, a specialty legal clinic dedicated to meeting the needs of low income Ontarians for legal services to address systemic issues in respect of income security programs. Our clinic comes from a shared vision of social programs based on our experiences and drawn from core values expressed in Canada’s international commitments and fundamental values of our legal system. This vision includes the principles that:
- all Ontario residents in need are entitled to income that is adequate to live with dignity and participate in society;
- principles of equity and equality must be reflected in both the design and the delivery of income support; and,
- the administration of income maintenance programs must be transparent, fair, accessible and respectful to people who use them.
These values inform the structure and work of the Income Security Advocacy Centre/Centre d’action pour sécurité du revenu. The clinic, in partnership with Ontario community clinics, low income individuals and communities and other supportive individuals and organizations, will engage in systemic advocacy directed at improving the income security of low income Ontarians.
A province where everyone flourishes on a livable income.
To advance the systemic interests and rights of low-income and equity-seeking communities and meaningfully support Indigenous Peoples and communities, with a focus on improving income security programs and ending low-wage precarious employment.
We work towards achieving our Vision and Mission through:
• Law and policy reform;
• Community organizing;
• Community outreach, public legal education, and capacity-building; and
• Partnership with clinics.
As we carry out our mission and strive to realize our vision, we will always stay true to our core values:
Inclusion: Committing to an equity lens and anti-oppression/anti-racist framework in everything we do.
Respect: Treating clients and colleagues with due regard for their circumstances, rights, and traditions; acting and supporting others in a fair and consistent manner.
Integrity: Always adhering to the highest ethical standards in everything we do, while maintaining confidentiality of sensitive information at all times.
Collaboration: Maintaining open communications and working cooperatively within ISAC, clinic system partners, and with other community stakeholders in the achievement of our mission.
Empathy: Openly listening and responding to the perspectives of others, especially those with lived experience.