The Social Assistance Review Commission (SARC), led by Francis Lankin (former head of the United Way) and Munir Sheikh (former chief statistician with Statistics Canada), has launched a website to house its social assistance review material. It has also released a discussion paper that frames the issues around social assistance and invites feedback from the public.
SARC, appointed by the government in November 30, 2010, is mandated to conduct a social assistance review for Ontario, a commitment made in the 2008 Poverty Reduction Strategy. Its work is guided by the Terms of Reference and list of expected outcomes established by the former Social Assistance Review Council appointed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
SARC’s work is twofold: to improve the employment opportunities of social assistance recipients and to ensure that those who cannot work receive adequate income supports.
SARC’s new website is located at www.socialassistancereview.ca. It provides a background on the review, a discussion paper on ideas and questions, a summary paper and workbook, and a guide to community consultations. A range of community feedback options is also on the site.
The discussion paper is the first in a series of reports that the Commission will generate. The initial discussion paper is meant to provoke thought and generate feedback to the Commission on issues and proposed solutions. This feedback will be incorporated into an options paper that is due out in the fall of 2011. A final report, due June of 2012, will include recommendations to the government on what is needed to reform social assistance in Ontario.
The discussion paper is framed around the following five issues:
- Reasonable expectations and necessary supports to employment
- Adequate benefit structure
- Making the system easier to understand
- How to make both OW and ODSP viable over the long term
- An integrated Ontario position on income security
Each section details the relevant issues and asks questions for feedback. There are eighteen questions in total and an invitation within each section to comment on areas of consideration not addressed in the paper. A detailed section on how to participate in the social assistance review is also included in this document.
See, “A Discussion Paper: Issues and Ideas,” available at www.socialassistancereview.ca.