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Ontario's Social Assistance Review

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Ontario's Social Assistance Review

About the Review

In the 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy, Ontario committed to reviewing social assistance with a focus on removing barriers and increasing opportunities for people to work.

In January 2010, Ontario appointed the Social Assistance Review Advisory Council to provide advice on a proposed scope for the review. The council's June 2010 report recommended a review of the whole income security system, including, but not limited to, social assistance. This includes a comprehensive review of income security, employment supports and related services for working-age adults.

In line with the council's recommendations, the review will:

  • recommend ways to improve people's ability to find and keep jobs and guarantee security for people who cannot work
  • examine and determine the effectiveness of social assistance and its role in relation to other parts of Canada's income security system, and
  • define Ontario's position regarding the federal government's responsibility for Ontarians' income security.

The review will take approximately 18 months to complete, from January 2011 to June 2012. Detailed information on opportunities for public input during the review will be available in the new year.

Review Objectives

The review commission will create a concrete action plan to reform Ontario's social assistance system. A reformed system will:

  • help get people back to work
  • be part of a larger income security system that includes municipal, provincial and federal programs
  • share responsibility for improving the outcomes of low-income Ontarians with municipal and federal governments as well as the people who rely on social assistance
  • be simple to understand and access, and provide people in need with basic income support in a fair and equitable way
  • work well with other municipal, provincial and federal programs outside of social assistance - including education, training, housing, child care and health benefits - to support employment
  • respect the autonomy, responsibility and dignity of individuals and recognize that clients are best placed to decide how to spend their money to meet their needs
  • be efficient, financially sustainable and accountable to taxpayers, and
  • meet its intended purpose as a system of last resort.

The Commissioners

The Honourable Frances Lankin, P.C. has spent a lifetime in service to the community and is a recognized leader in the non-profit sector. She is the former President and CEO of United Way Toronto, and guided the organization through its strategic transformation to become a leading community builder.

Ms. Lankin was the Member of Provincial Parliament for Beaches-East York from 1990 to 2001 and held posts as provincial Minister of Government Services, Minister of Health and Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

Ms. Lankin has served on the boards of numerous not-for-profit and charitable organizations, and in 2009 was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which provides an external review of Canadian Security Intelligence Service operations.

Ms. Lankin was a member of the Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults Task Force, which released its report, Time for a Fair Deal, in 2006. In 2007, she received the Toronto Star Laurel Award for Losing Ground, United Way's report on family poverty in Toronto. In 2008, she was named one of More Magazine's Top 40 over 40 in the Fighting for Equality category. Most recently, Ryerson University and Queen's University each honoured her with a Doctor of Laws degree.

Ms. Lankin is currently a member of the Mowat Centre Employment Insurance Task Force, which is about to launch consultations and intends to release a report next year.

Dr. Munir Sheikh is an economist, academic and the former Chief Statistician of Canada.

Dr. Sheikh holds a Doctorate degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters degree in Economics from McMaster University. He has published extensively in academic journals in the areas of international economics, macroeconomics and public finance. He also taught at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Sheikh began his public service career as an economist with the Economic Council of Canada from 1972 to 1976. After working at the National Energy Board between 1976 and 1978, he joined the Department of Finance and was appointed Senior Assistant Deputy Minister in 2000.

Between 2001 and 2006, Dr. Sheikh held senior positions with Health Canada, the Privy Council Office and Human Resources and Social Development Canada.  He was appointed Chief Statistician of Canada in 2008.  

Dr. Sheikh is currently a Distinguished Fellow and Adjunct Professor at Queen's University.

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