The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services has released the terms of reference for the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario. The purpose of the review is to provide recommendations and a plan of action that will increase the effectiveness of services for social assistance recipients.
The document will guide the work of the commission, setting out the background and context for the review, and outlining the structure of the commission, as well as the scope, mandate, outcomes and review process. It also establishes timelines for release of communications and the final report. In making recommendations, the review will take into account the larger income security supports, but social assistance will not be examined in isolation. For instance, the commission will consider issues such as how social assistance interacts with Employment Ontario (the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities’ array of employment and training programs), and reasonable expectations and supports for persons with disabilities.
The terms of reference also identify five anticipated outcomes of the review process, including establishing an appropriate benefit structure that reduces barriers; placing reasonable expectations on, and providing supports for, people who rely on social assistance; simplifying income and asset rules; ensuring the long-term viability of the social assistance system; and defining Ontario’s position with regards to federal and municipal governments. The two co-chairs of the commission are also expected to undertake research and analysis of best practices, and other relevant research.
The review commission will be supported in their work by a secretariat of 10 professionals and administrative staff. In addition, the review commission is expected to consult the wider community and will prepare an engagement paper to guide this consultation process.
See “Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario: Terms of Reference,” available at www.mcss.gov.on.ca. For more information about the review process, see “Ontario Launches Social Assistance Reform Process,” Mental Health Notes, December 9, 2010, available at www.ontario.cmha.ca/news.