Province Shares Details on Social Assistance Recovery and Renewal Plan

September 30, 2020

The Ontario government released further details on their plan for social assistance recovery and renewal. This work builds on and traces back to the work completed by the former Income Security Working Group, who OMSSA submitted its recommendations (PDF) to in late 2017. 

OMSSA also outlined its advocacy priorities in social assistance and employment and submitted further priorities and recommendation on Social Assistance Reform after the election of the current provincial government in 2018. In recent months, OMSSA members have engaged in consultations on social assistance reform with the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
The Province released new initial details on their social assistance recovery and renewal plan, including:
  • Enhanced Access to Employment and Training: Working with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to improve access to employment and training services to drive the best outcomes for social assistance clients, including people with disabilities who have been particularly hard hit by job losses during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

  • Accelerating Digital Delivery: Accessing supports will be easier with new digital tools and modern service options such as an online application, expansion of the MyBenefits digital platform to improve access for people receiving social assistance, and new communications channels to allow two-way digital messaging between clients and caseworkers;

  • Centralized and Automated Delivery: A centralized intake process that reduces paperwork, giving caseworkers more time to support clients through crisis and help them get back to work;

  • Risk-based Eligibility Reviews: Automated, smarter eligibility verification with provincial, federal and third-party sources to make financial assistance processing faster, while strengthening program integrity; and

  • Collaborating with Partners: By co-designing a new provincial-municipal transformation vision with municipal Ontario Works delivery partners; working with First Nations partners to develop a social assistance recovery and renewal plan that responds to unique First Nations priorities and circumstances; and engaging with key stakeholders, including staff, provincial bargaining agents, clients and health care providers.

Employment System Transformation is currently underway in three prototype regions, impacting nine CMSMs.   Changes related to a centralized intake process and risk-based eligibility reviews will be piloted and later rolled out to all 47 CMSMs and DSSABs in the first quarter of 2021. 

OMSSA members continue to consult with the Province on accelerating digitization to reduce administrative burdens so that additional time can be spent providing crucial life stabilization services and maximizing outcomes for Ontario Works clients.

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