Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario (CMHA Ontario) has responded to the Social Assistance Review Commission’s second paper, “Options for Reform” with 13 recommendations in the Commission’s five areas of interest. CMHA Ontario structured their submission to respond to many, but not all, of the Commission’s questions with regards to the options they proposed for possible reforms to the current social assistance system in Ontario.
In recognizing the fiscal restraints under which the Commission was writing their report, the overarching message from the CMHA Ontario submission was that any future changes should be considered in the context of the poverty reduction strategy. In addition, reforms should not negatively impact social assistance recipients, leaving them in a worse financial state than they are now.
CMHA Ontario provided the following recommendations on changes to the employment supports policy and program design. They include:
- Ensuring that participation requirements remain voluntary for ODSP recipients;
- Work assessments should not be used to determine eligibility;
- A broad range of supports should be funded;
- Specialized providers with both mental health and employment supports skill sets should be retained in a reformed system;
- Employment quotas should be established to ensure the supply of workers with mental health disabilities; and
- An employment framework should be developed with input from multiple stakeholders.
Adequate rates were also addressed by calling for an independent rates review board to set criteria. To address the fairness issue that the Commissioners raised, CMHA Ontario supported Poverty-Free Ontario in their call for a decent wage floor for all low-income Ontarians.
The Commission asked how to make social assistance viable over the long-term. CMHA Ontario supported downloading of ODSP employment supports to the municipalities if a number of concerns were resolved first.
An increase of asset levels and a new system of reconciliation were also recommended in this report.
See, “Improving Ontario’s Social Assistance System: Response to “Discussion Paper 2: Approaches for Reform” available atwww.ontario.cmha.ca/submissions.
CMHA Ontario also made a submission at an earlier stage of the consultation; to read that report, please visitwww.ontario.cmha.ca/submissions.