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  • CCPA's National Office has moved! May 11, 2018
      The week of May 1st, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' National Office moved to 141 Laurier Ave W, Suite 1000, Ottawa ON, K1P 5J2. Please note that our phone, fax and general e-mail will remain the same: Telephone: 613-563-1341 | Fax: 613-233-1458 | Email: ccpa@policyalternatives.ca  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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    Canada faces some very difficult choices in maintaining energy security while meeting emissions reduction targets.  A new study by veteran earth scientist David Hughes—published through the Corporate Mapping Project, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute—is a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s energy systems in light of the need to maintain energy security and […]
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    The cost of raising a family in British Columbia increased slightly from 2017 to 2018. A $20.91 hourly wage is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in Metro Vancouver, up from $20.61 per hour in 2017 due to soaring housing costs. This is the hourly wage that two working parents with two young children […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Mobility pricing must be fair and equitable for all April 12, 2018
    As Metro Vancouver’s population has grown, so have its traffic congestion problems. Whether it’s a long wait to cross a bridge or get on a bus, everyone can relate to the additional time and stress caused by a transportation system under strain. Mobility pricing is seen as a solution to Metro Vancouver’s transportation challenges with […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Budget 2018: The Most Disappointing Budget Ever March 14, 2018
    Premier Pallister’s Trump-esque statement that budget 2018 was going to be the “best budget ever” has fallen a bit flat. Instead of a bold plan to deal with climate change, poverty and our crumbling infrastructure, we are presented with two alarmist scenarios to justify further tax cuts and a lack of decisive action: the recent […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

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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