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Helping People with A Plan to Reform Social Assistance


Helping People with A Plan to Reform Social Assistance

Social assistance programs are an important part of Ontario's safety net, which must be designed to help the most vulnerable.

Currently, Ontario's safety net is far from perfect. Too many people are struggling for independence, and one in seven Ontarians live in poverty.

Social Assistance by the Numbers

  • One in five people stay on Ontario Works for more than five years.
  • 57 per cent more single people are on Ontario Works than 15 years ago.
  • Almost half the people who leave Ontario Works return—90 per cent of them within a year.
  • Lack of work is the largest single reason people apply for social assistance, with disability second. The number of people relying on the Ontario Disability Support Program has been going up by 3 per cent annually—an additional 10,000 more people every year.
  • Social assistance staff spend between 75 and 90 per cent of their time on paperwork, instead of helping people get back on track.

Reforming Social Assistance

Over the next 100 days, Ontario will work on a plan to reform social assistance so it helps more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track.

While work is underway, people receiving support through the Ontario Disability Support Program will receive a 1.5 per cent cost of living increase on September 1, 2018. Ontario Works recipients will receive the same increase on October 1, 2018.

The 1.5 per cent across the board adjustment includes:

  • Basic needs and shelter maximums for singles and families
  • Board and lodge rates for singles and families
  • Institutional rates (ODSP only)
  • Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities

In addition, the following rates and benefits will increase by 1.5 per cent:

  • Temporary Care Assistance
  • Adults living with parents rate (Ontario Works only)
  • Dependents with Dependents rate (Ontario Works only)
  • Advanced Age Allowance (Ontario Works only)
  • First Nations emergency hostel services per diem (board and lodge, and personal needs allowance) (Ontario Works only)
  • Double disabled maximum (ODSP only)
  • Special Boarder Allowance
  • Remote Communities Allowance
  • Personal Needs Allowance
  • Guide Dog Benefit
  • Budgetary requirements for residents of interval and transition homes
  • The rate table used for calculating the income charge for sponsored immigrants living with their sponsor.

What is Being Paused

While work is underway on a new plan for social assistance, Ontario will not proceed with initiatives announced in Chapter 1, Section 7 of the previous government's 2018 Budget.

The following changes that were implemented in April and July of 2018 will remain in effect.

Effective April 20, 2018

  • Exemption from the cap on the provincial contribution to Ontario Works Discretionary Benefits expenditures (First Nation Ontario Works Delivery Partners only)
  • Exemption of income paid under an employment training program (Residents of First Nation Communities only)
  • Exemption of orphan's and disabled contributor's child benefit payments from other jurisdictions
  • Maintain dependent children attending school away from their primary residences in the parental benefit unit
  • Maintain dependent adults and dependent children in the parental benefit unit while in full time post-secondary education away from home
  • Changes to eligibility requirements for refugee claimants

Effective July, 2018

  • For the Ontario Disability Support Program, a new prescribed class for persons in receipt of an award under the English and Wabigoon River Systems Mercury Contamination Settlement Agreement Act, 1986.

Winding-Down the Basic Income Research Project

Ontario will wind down the Basic Income research project. The three-year study of no-strings attached payments is not the answer Ontario families need. Ontario will focus resources on more proven approaches.

Media Contacts

  • Kristen Tedesco

    Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services




Poverty Reduction