A new report called “Income Security: A Roadmap for Change” has just been released by the provincial government.
The Roadmap was written by three groups that were appointed by the Minister of Community and Social Services (MCSS) in 2016 to give advice to the government on how to reform Ontario’s income security system.
ISAC’s Director of Advocacy & Legal Services was a member of the Income Security Reform Working Group, one of the three groups that contributed to the report. See our email from earlier this week for links to more information about those groups.
We urge everyone with an interest in improving social assistance and other income security programs in Ontario to read the Roadmap, engage with its recommendations, and participate in the public consultation process.
The Roadmap is available here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/income-security-reform?_ga=2.102844096.116777174.1509628103-2023688940.1504455684
The government’s press release is here: https://news.ontario.ca/mcss/en/2017/11/working-groups-deliver-roadmap-for-income-security-reform.html
Public consultation will take place between now and January 2, 2018. UPDATE: This deadline has been extended to January 5.
The government is asking people to provide feedback in writing. Information about the feedback process is here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/income-security-reform#section-5
We are optimistic that the Roadmap and its recommendations lay out a vision for the future of income security in Ontario that responds to concerns that the community has raised for years, and can be implemented by government.
But we also believe that this round of consultation must lead to concrete steps forward.
Government needs to take action. There has been enough talk.
The Roadmap says that “it’s long past time for investments to be made so that all individuals, particularly those in deepest poverty, have more to live on and a better chance to participate in their communities.”
People who rely on OW and ODSP need the government to invest in incomes that allow them to live in health and with dignity, and they need it now.
The Roadmap also makes important recommendations for other changes that would:
- Make OW and ODSP more supportive and collaborative and less punitive and intrusive, working together with people with lived experience;
- Provide critically important health and income benefits to low-income Ontarians outside the social assistance system;
- Ensure government moves towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, through improved programs and services that respond to their unique needs; and
- Recognize First Nations jurisdiction over social services and their right to control design and delivery of their own programs.
In the coming days, ISAC will be circulating information that you may find helpful when responding to the public consultation, including:
- An analysis of what the report says and what it could mean for low-income Ontarians
- A draft template letter for you to adapt, to provide your written feedback to the consultations
- Ideas for agencies and organizations to engage with community members to ensure the voices of people with lived experience of OW and ODSP are included in community discussions and supported to provide feedback to government.
It’s very important that everyone who is interested in social assistance and income security reform contribute to this short consultation.
Change will only come if members of the community push hard to make it happen.