It has been almost a year since the Ontario government announced a number of proposed changes to our social assistance programs on Nov. 22, 2018. Many of these changes have been cancelled or postponed as a result of community resistance. This fact sheet explains where we are today.
Proposed changes that have been cancelled
- The Transition Child Benefit (TCB), which provides up to $230 per child to social assistance recipients who do not receive child tax benefits, has been saved. The province had originally decided to cancel the TCB, but the community spoke out against it with the Campaign against the Cuts to Social Assistance. ISAC also put the government on notice of a Charter challenge to the cancellation. In the end, the government reversed its decision and the TCB program will continue.
- You can read our press release on this victory.
- The government had also announced changes to social assistance that would have affected how much money recipients could earn from employment without facing deductions. These changes, which would have negatively affected Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients, have been cancelled.
Proposed changes that have not been implemented yet
- The government announced a proposed change to the definition of disability in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The government has not yet said exactly what the new definition would be, but the change could potentially limit access to the program for people with disabilities by making it more difficult to qualify. The necessary legislation to make this change has not yet been introduced and the government has been silent on whether or not it still plans to go ahead with it.
- The government also announced the creation of a “Health Spending Account”, but has not revealed its details yet. Currently, social assistance recipients can access several health benefits that could be consolidated into the Health Spending Account.
- You can read our backgrounder on this proposed change.
- The government has announced plans to make changes to Ontario Works’ (OW) employment services. Starting in April 2020, OW and ODSP will be testing a new system in three regions: Peel, Hamilton-Niagara (Hamilton, Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk and Niagara), and Muskoka-Kawarthas (Muskoka, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and Northumberland). There are very few details available about what will change. Ontario is hiring organizations to run the new employment programs. These programs will be available for all job seekers, not just OW and ODSP recipients. The amount of money paid to these will be based on how successful they are at moving people into jobs. These changes won’t apply on First Nation reserves.
At ISAC, we will continue to monitor all changes to social assistance in the province and provide analysis.