The Ford government is working on a plan to reform Social Assistance so that it can help more people break the cycle of poverty, re-enter the workforce and get back on track.
“We need to do more than just help people remain mired in poverty,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, when announcing the reform plan.
“We’re going to hit the pause button on the previous government’s patchwork system and replace it with a system that helps stabilize people in need and support them to succeed.”
The PC Party has now introduced an accelerated 100-day deadline to develop and announce a “sustainable” social assistance program.
In the interim, the government will provide increase support rates for people on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program by 1.5%, which is significantly lower than what was previously promised by the Liberals.
Additionally, as part of this reform, MacLeod also announced that the Province will be winding down Ontario’s Basic Income pilot in order to focus resources on more proven approaches.
“Our plan will help get people back to work and keep them working, while supporting people with disabilities to work when they are able and participate in their communities,” said MacLeod.
“And our efforts to fix social assistance will go hand-in-hand with our commitments to reduce gas prices by 10% litre, lower hydro rates, and provide targeted tax relief for working parents and minimum wage earners, all of which will provide focused benefits to lower income families.”
The basic income pilot project was introduced in April 2017 and was tested in Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County, Lindsay and Thunder Bay and the surrounding area.
During the pilot, a single person could have received up to about $17,000 a year, less 50% of any earned income. A couple could receive up to $24,000 a year, while someone with a disability could have received an additional $600 per month.
The pilot was introduced to test whether a basic income can better support vulnerable workers, improve health and education outcomes for people on low incomes, and help ensure that everyone shares in Ontario’s economic growth.