Ontario Establishing Income Security Reform Working Group
Ontario has established an Income Security Reform Working Group to help guide the province's efforts to reduce poverty, support people in their efforts to participate in the economy, and provide services in a way that makes sense to the people who need them.
The province is working to move away from a complex system of social assistance, to a more holistic, client-centred approach to a broader income security system. The working group will build on work already underway and provide advice to government on social assistance reform, income security, and supports for housing, health and employment. The Basic Income Pilot announced in the 2016 Budget will help inform this work.
George Thomson, Senior Director of the National Judicial Institute and former Ontario Provincial Court Judge, who also chaired the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform, will act as the Income Security Working Group’s facilitator. Together the group will:
- Help Ontario develop a roadmap for an income security system that is based on fairness, adequacy and simplicity.
- Recommend priorities for reform, including on the structure of a future social assistance system.
- Determine the sequence of actions and the costs of a multi-year implementation plan for income security reform.
- Provide advice to the minister on how government can improve the client experience for those receiving income supports.
The Income Security Reform Working Group will meet over the next 12 months, beginning on June 30, 2016, and will report back to the government with recommendations by summer of 2017.
To ensure that the plan includes the unique perspective and experience of Indigenous people, Ontario is reaching out to Indigenous partners to develop a meaningful process for collaborative engagement over the coming year. This will include bringing together organizations that can reflect perspectives of Indigenous people in urban and rural communities.
Developing an action plan for broader income security reform is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario's history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- The Income Security Reform Working Group is made up of advocates, people with lived experience, delivery partners, frontline staff and subject-matter experts.
- The 2012 Lankin-Sheikh Commission’s Report highlighted the need to move from a complex system with many rules that seem to punish rather than support, to a simpler, more holistic client-centred approach.
“Our government recognizes that a broader reform of income security is needed in Ontario, and I am so pleased that we are moving forward to make practical, significant changes to our system to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our province. I am looking forward to the recommendations of the Income Security Reform Working Group, and I am confident that together, we can create a holistic income security system that truly helps people to reach their full potential.”