The first report in 30 years to recommend major investments in and improvements to programs that affect the lives of low-income people in Ontario was released on November 2, 2017.
A Roadmap for Change is a ten-year plan to transform income security system in Ontario, including social assistance. https://www.ontario.ca/page/income-security-roadmap-change
Why Transformation is Needed
The income security system was designed for a workforce of the past that featured long-term good-paying jobs. But today we have many more low-paying, part-time, temporary jobs with no benefits and little security, says Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy & Legal Services, at the Income Security and Advocacy Centre (ISAC).
A Roadmap for Change reflects a fundamentally different approach to supports and services. The approach would put people – and their needs and rights – at the centre of the system. In addition, the report recognizes the differential impact of poverty on disadvantaged groups, Indigenous peoples, racialized people, people with disabilities and other marginalized communities. Three Working Groups
At the request of Helena Jaczek, the Minister of Community and Social Services , three working groups contributed to the report. Those groups were the
Income Security Reform Working Group, the First Nations Income Security Reform Working Group and the Urban Indigenous Table on Income Security.
Key Action Areas
It is a hefty report at 180 pages. At the risk of oversimplifying it though it can be said there are five key areas for action. They are:
1. Achieving income adequacy
2. Engaging the whole income security system
3. Transforming social assistance
4. Helping those in deepest poverty
5. Responding to unique concerns & needs of First Nations (FN) and Indigenous communities.
Where it could Lead
If recommendations in the plan are adopted Ontario would be a different place. For example ISAC suggests that: *People would have greater control over their own lives i.e.; able to meet their essential needs.
*People would have improved sense of personal agency, respect and dignity – Are empowered and equipped to better achieve personal success, however they define it.
*The proposed system would be easier to use, connect people to supports and services, and respond to their diverse and changing needs.
*Front-line staff will be empowered to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
*There will be greater social and economic inclusion.
What you can do
The government will release its own Income Security Strategy in early 2018. We need to push them to get it right.
There are at least three ways to make input.
1. The government is looking for feedback until January 5, 2018. That doesn’t allow much time for input. ISAC has created some tools to give feedback that you can find at http://incomesecurity.org/policy-advocacy/a-roadmap-for-change-tools-you-can-use-to-have-your-voice-heard/
2. Those tools can also help you or your group in making a written submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs by Jan 19 or you can write to the Minister of Finance. The 2018-2019 Budget is the last budget before the June election. The 18-19 budget should make investments as suggested by Roadmap.
3. The provincial election is scheduled for June 7th. We need to work to ensure income security is an election issue.
For more background on the report you can watch a webinar put on by CLEO – Your Legal Rights at http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/webinar/income-security-roadmap-change-what-it-says-why-it-matters-and-what-you-can-do