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  • Report looks at captured nature of BC’s Oil and Gas Commission August 6, 2019
    From an early stage, BC’s Oil and Gas Commission bore the hallmarks of a captured regulator. The very industry that the Commission was formed to regulate had a significant hand in its creation and, too often, the interests of the industry it regulates take precedence over the public interest. This report looks at the evolution […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Correcting the Record July 26, 2019
    Earlier this week Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun. The opinion piece makes several false claims and connections regarding the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), which we would like to correct. The […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Rental Wage in Canada July 18, 2019
    Our new report maps rental affordability in neighbourhoods across Canada by calculating the “rental wage,” which is the hourly wage needed to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30% of one’s earnings.  Across all of Canada, the average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $22.40/h, or $20.20/h for an average one […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada July 9, 2019
    CCPA senior economist David Macdonald co-authored a new report, Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada­—released by Upstream Institute in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—tracks child poverty rates using Census 2006, the 2011 National Household Survey and Census 2016. The report is available for […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Fossil-Power Top 50 launched July 3, 2019
    What do Suncor, Encana, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Fraser Institute and 46 other companies and organizations have in common? They are among the entities that make up the most influential fossil fuel industry players in Canada. Today, the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) is drawing attention to these powerful corporations and organizations with the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Social Assistance in Ontario

Two weeks ago, the report of a government-appointed panel on Ontario’s social assistance system was made public.  The report, entitled “Recommendations for an Ontario Income Security Review,” was written by the 11-member Ontario Social Assistance Review Advisory Council, which had been struck in December 2009 by the McGuinty government. 

The Council had been asked to make recommendations on the “scope and terms of reference that would guide the development of [a] social assistance review.” In other words, members were charged with advising the McGuinty government on how to go about creating a process that would in turn advise the government on how to go about improving its social assistance system. (At least the McGuinty government can’t be accused of rushing this!)

I have two general comments on the report.  First, I was relieved to see it recommend that the Ontario Income Security Review “[d]evelop standards for a liveable income and a process to use those standards to assess the adequacy of Ontarians’ incomes.”

Such a recommendation may sound straightforward to some, but in fact it’s been well-known for years (especially since the mid-1990s) that welfare rates do not even come close to reflecting what a household needs to live in Ontario, most notably in a major urban centre.  Moreover, I have found that many policy dialogues over social assistance tend to stay clear of this specific topic all together, preferring instead to focus on more “publicly acceptable” policy objectives, such as reducing marginal tax rates for welfare recipients and increasing child benefits.  In other words, it seems much more appealing for some experts to focus on the so-called “deserving poor” (i.e. those who have a realistic shot at finding work or those with children) than it is to focus on the so-called “undeserving poor.” So, kudos to the panel for this recommendation!

My second observation has to do with the council’s assertion that “[t]he development of a housing benefit paid outside of social assistance should be a priority.” As I have argued elsewhere, I support the idea of a “housing benefit,” especially in response to a recession.  But I do hope that the advantages of building non-profit housing are not lost in this process.  Indeed, as I argued in a 2007 paper, building non-profit housing offers many benefits that “housing benefits” (similar to “rent supplements,” “shelter allowances” and “housing allowances”) do not.

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from John Stapleton
Time: July 5, 2010, 9:47 am

Hopefully,a carefully designed Housing Benefit would go a long way to creating the climate needed to build affordable housing.

Comment from Dr. Fullmore
Time: July 10, 2010, 2:47 pm

In the context of the dangerous homeless crisis, public housing is urgently needed.

A housing benefit is only a tiny fraction of the solution, entirely incapable of solving our homelessness crisis.

but, is it a needed and laudable baby step.

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