This submission examines why the current Ontario Works (OW) program cannot reach objectives consistent with poverty reduction under its current policy framework. It will also look at the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). While ODSP shares many of the same problems as OW with respect to financial eligibility, unlike OW it has promising legislative objectives that have been given effect in judicial decisions at the highest level. While these objectives have not been fully realized, the program nonetheless has some important features that should not be discarded but instead built upon.
Social Assistance Reform
We determined that it would be helpful to outline the Coalition’s ideas for ODSP reform within a framework that we call an “Activation Agenda”. This model of employment-related supports is made up of four key elements that we believe are the foundation for an Ontario Disability Support Program that would actually meet the objectives it was set out to achieve.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) has prepared this document to highlight some of the key issues in the Commission’s Discussion Paper, summarize what the Discussion Paper says, identify some of the opportunities it presents, and signal some of the risks. We hope that this document will be of use to people who are making a submission to the Commission or who are responding to the questions that the Commission asks in its Workbook.
ISAC, together with many community and social policy partners, have been calling for an overhaul of social assistance since the government announced its commitment to developing a poverty reduction strategy. We did this because Ontario Works (OW), as a “work first” program, is not meeting its stated objectives: it has failed as a program to provide income supports effectively, and it has failed as a program to promote labour market attachment. Ontario Works in particular undermines the values and policy framework of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Act, and Poverty Reduction Strategy. While the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) certainly needs improvement, it is OW that needs transformation.
The ‘Bringing in Women’s Voices’ project, initiated by Ontario Campaign 2000 and the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) has the goal of ensuring that the voices of low-income women (especially lone mothers) are heard in the public discussion of economic security issues that affect their daily lives, including the Social Assistance Review.
This document lists some of the major principles and commitments that have been articulated by government in the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Poverty Reduction Act, and the Terms of Reference for the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario.
Interested in organizing in your community around Ontario’s Social Assistance Review this summer? Not sure where to begin or want some support? You’re not alone! That’s why the ODSP Action Coalition, with support from the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) and the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, have developed a Facilitator’s Guide for a workshop on the Social Assistance Review.
In preparation for and throughout the term of the Social Assistance Review, we wanted to share a number of important reports and studies produced by others. We were hoping that these materials would be helpful for people who were thinking about what the problems are in Ontario’s social assistance and income security systems, and what …
This workshop by the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) and the Steering Committee on Social Assistance (SCSA) provides an early analysis of issues in the Social Assistance Review and discusses organizing strategies with community legal clinic workers attending the annual meeting of OPICCO, the Ontario Project for Inter-Clinic Organizing. Videos from the workshop are below: …
If we were redesigning an income support program for persons with disabilities we would start from these principles:
– Persons with disabilities have the right to be treated with dignity;
– Income support levels should adequately support the needs of people with disabilities;
– The capacities of persons with disabilities to participate and contribute to economic and civic life should be recognized and nurtured; and,
– Provincial income support programs should be aligned with other programs and policies of government (provincial and federal), to the greatest extent possible and without disadvantaging the people they are intended to serve.