03/04/2010

The Ministry of Community and Social Services had recently announced changes to the Ontario Works cost of administration incentive funding.
The $18.14 million program fully funded by the Ministry was provided to municipal service managers to enhance case management in the areas of eligibility review, consolidation verification and enhanced family support initiatives. Incentive funding has now been consolidated into the cost of administration funding.

While including incentive funding in regular program administration responds to municipal service delivery agents interest in simplifying the complex rules of OW administration, this change was made by MCSS on the basis that it would become 50:50 as per the normal cost of administration formula. As a result this would have resulted in decreased funding levels for many municipalities. The Ministry’s move to consolidate all the funding streams has been identified as a response to recommendations arising from the Provincial Municipal Fiscal and Service  Delivery Review (PMFSDR) - to create a more locally responsive and flexible model. However, shifting a fully provincially funded program to a cost-shared program is a step backward from the direction recommended by AMO and municipal representatives as well as the Ministry’s most recent moves to an outcomes based funding model.

The Ministry had advised municipalities that the change in funding would be effective January 1, 2010.

Recognizing the cost-share change would result in direct funding decreases for many municipalities across the province, the Ministry has committed to provide additional funding to those negatively impacted because of the change. The additional funding will bring those affected back up to the 2009 total incentive funding allocation to ensure that no municipalities would experience a decrease in funding.

While the Ministry top up is the right thing to do, the Ministry advises that the funding will be subject to 50:50 cost sharing as of January 2011. What this means is that if caseloads rise above 2009 levels, municipalities will need to fund this portion of cost of administration. AMO will be pursuing this matter further through the Memorandum of Understanding process with the province. Any additional burden to the cost of administration remains problematic. It cannot undermine the work of the PMFSDR in moving to an outcomes based model of service to those that need employment assistance. AMO continues to advocate for reconciliation of the social programs component of the OMPF for 2008 and 2009. AMO will update membership on these matters.