August 2017

The municipal sector is looking to the Province for social assistance reform.

In Ontario, municipal governments and District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) fund and deliver social assistance to low-income Ontarians. The provincial upload of social assistance benefit costs will be completed by 2018. Still, municipal governments and DSAABs will retain the same responsibility, and administrative costs will continue to be shared 50/50 with the Province.

The Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario report, Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario (2012) outlined ways to remove barriers and increase opportunities for people to work. Income and employment support programs play a crucial role in labour development, promoting community health, reducing poverty and enhancing economic competitiveness. As such, social assistance reform that helps people join the labour market would provide broad economic and social benefits across the province.

AMO will continue to work with the provincial government as it considers social assistance reform within the broader context of income security reform. AMO sees this work as an opportunity for new approaches to improve the lives of low-income Ontarians. This includes the Basic Income Pilot announced in the 2017 Budget with input from former Senator, the Honourable Hugh Segal. AMO looks forward to the proof of concept evaluation of the pilot and the assessment of the impact on residents, municipal governments and DSAABs.

At the same time, there may also be an opportunity to reduce administrative costs for municipal governments and DSAABs. As long as municipalities share administrative costs, they remain vulnerable to provincial changes. The recent workload and related costs of the Social Assistance Management System – the Province’s new IT system – is an example of financial exposure.

AMO believes that a strong, collaborative provincial-municipal partnership through social assistance reform will achieve better outcomes for our communities. Both parties share common interests: to design, plan and oversee the delivery of efficient and effective services; to simplify and consolidate arrangements, where appropriate; and to focus on results for our residents.