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Social Assistance Reform

Read the Hamilton Poverty Roundtable’s response to Social Assistance Discussion Paper 2

Reforming Social Assistance in Ontario

Ontario’s social assistance system is failing this province’s most vulnerable citizens. Rates are too low, rules are too complex and opportunities to move off the system into well-paying jobs are few and far between. Individuals with disabilities do not have the supports they need to help them live healthier.

In Hamilton alone, nearly 60,000 children, women and men rely on social assistance as their source of income and yet we know many of them are living in the deepest poverty in our society. The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction believes that in order to reduce and eliminate poverty in Hamilton, social assistance must be radically reformed to provide adequate standard of living that enables recipients to live with dignity.

In 2008, the Province of Ontario committed to review and reform social assistance in Ontario. A Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario was established. In July 2011, more than 200 Hamiltonians attended a community consultation and told the Commissioners what needed to change to make the system more responsive and fair.

Below you can learn more social assistance and what the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s working group on Social Assistance Reform is doing to advocate with the Government of Ontario for evidence-based rates.

News and Updates:

Organizations in Hamilton Respond to the Social Assistance Discussion Paper

See Laura Cattari Discuss Social Assistance Reform with Steve Paikin on TVO’s the Agenda

See Commissioners Frances Lankin and Dr. Munir Sheikh discuss their vision for social assistance in Ontario with Steve Paikin on TVO’s the Agenda

Key facts about social assistance:

Ontario has two social assistance programs to help eligible residents of Ontario who are in financial need.

Ontario Disability Support Program is intended for people with disabilities. It has two parts:

  • financial help — this is called Income Support
  • help finding a job — this is called Employment Supports.

Ontario Works (formerly General Welfare) is available for people who are in financial need.

Number of people on Ontario Works in Hamilton = 30,865

Number of people on Ontario Disability Support Program in Hamilton = 28,248

Percentage of Hamilton’s population who receives income through social assistance = 12%

Monthly income for a single person on Ontario Works = $599/month

Monthly income for a single person on Ontario Disability Support Program = $1,064/month

75% of the people on Ontario Works stay on the system less than 12 months

Background documents and information

Kubursi Report apr 2011

Bill 305 an Act to establish the Social Assistance Rates Board

Submission to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Right to an Adequate Standard of Living for individuals and Families in Receipt of Social Assistance.

Income Security Advocacy Centre – Current social assistance rates in Ontario


Parent page: Social Assistance Reform
Child page: Social Assistance News