The Social Assistance Review was a process of policy change that is still playing out and has roots going back to 2007.
In 2007, advocates succeeded in convincing the Ontario government to commit to creating a Poverty Reduction Strategy. In December 2008, the government introduced Ontario’s first-ever Poverty Reduction Strategy, called “Breaking the Cycle”. All parties in the legislature subsequently supported poverty reduction by unanimously approving Bill 152, the Poverty Reduction Act, in May 2009.
One commitment made in that first Strategy in 2008 was a commitment to review Ontario’s social assistance programs.
After this commitment was made, ISAC undertook a number of activities to help people advocate for a “bold and broad” social assistance review, and to prepare for what a review might look at. These activities included:
- Making a submission to the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction about how social assistance in Ontario should be reconceived in order to make it align with the goal of reducing poverty
- Organizing with
- Those workshops
- Bringing in Women’s Voices
In late 2009, the provincial government appointed an advisory council to give ideas on how a review would work. ISAC’s Director of Legal & Advocacy Services was appointed to the Social Assistance Review Advisory Council (SARAC) and participated in its deliberations for several months. In June 2010, SARAC issued its final report, which ….
In December 2010, the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario was appointed. The Commission’s work lasted nearly two years and included issuing two rounds of consultation with stakeholders.
The first consultation focused on issues in the Commission’s first discussion paper, called “ Issues and Ideas”.
ISAC and partners prepared several resources for individuals and communities to use to respond to the first discussion paper:
- ISAC’s submission to the Commission
- ISAC’s analysis of the consultation paper
- ISAC’s vision for Social Assistance Reform
- ISAC partnered with the ODSP Action Coalition and the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario to create a workshop facilitator’s guide for advocates to use to hold discussions with people on social assistance.
- Here are some submissions sent to the Commission based on workshops held using the facilitator’s guide.
- The ODSP Action Coalition made two submissions to the Commission on the first discussion paper – Dignity, Adequacy, Inclusion and An Activation Agenda.
The Commission released a summary of the consultations around the first discussion paper, called “What We Heard”.
The second consultation focused on issues in the Commission’s second discussion paper, called “ Approaches for Reform”.
ISAC and partners produced these resources on the second discussion paper:
- ISAC’s response to the second discussion paper
- ISAC’s “The Options Paper: What Does It Say and What Does It Mean” Webinar – explaining the second discussion paper, with backgrounders and other resources
- ISAC’s “Preparing for the Options Paper” Webinars – with a toolkit of important background information and tools you can use
- A backgrounder on the impact of the Drummond Report on the Social Assistance Review
- The ODSP Action Coalition’s response, entitled “Positive or Punitive: What will Reform Mean for People with Disabilities?”
- The ODSP Action Coalition has also created a lobby kit that groups across Ontario can use to talk with their local MPPs about the important issues at stake in the review.
On October 24, 2012, the Commission released its final report and recommendations.
Here is ISAC’s response to the report.
Here is a webinar we held on December 3, 2012 that will gives an analysis of the report and the implications of its recommendations.
Here is a backgrounder on one of the recommendations of the Review’s report, around increasing the amount of money that people who are receiving social assistance can keep when they’re working: