welfare program, including for disabl...

welfare program, including for disabled, that removes barriers to work.

Posted in the Georgetown Forum

jon

North Bay, Canada

#1 Oct 24, 2012
Ontario commission calls for integrated welfare pro

2 Comments
Ontario’s $8.3 billion welfare system should be transformed into a simpler, more effective and accountable system that helps move more people, including the disabled, into jobs and out of poverty, says the long-awaited report from the province’s social assistance review commission.

Under this “transformational change,” disability benefits, children’s benefits and health benefits would be removed from social assistance and be available outside welfare to all low-income Ontarians, say commissioners Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh in their 183-page report released Wednesday.

The commission, established in November 2010 to remove barriers and increase opportunities for people to work, was part of the province’s 2008 poverty reduction strategy.

Central to the report’s 108 recommendations is the proposed merger of Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) into a single, integrated program with provincial standards but delivered locally by municipalities, which already administer OW.

ODSP is currently delivered by provincial officials. But the commissioners believe municipalities are better equipped to run the new job-focused program because they have connections to local employers and already administer other supports to low-income people such as child care, housing, settlement services, public health and addiction services.

“This report charts a new course for social assistance in Ontario, a course designed to support all recipients to participate in the workforce to the maximum of their abilities and to guarantee income security for those who cannot work,” says the report, entitled “Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario.”

Under the proposed new program, welfare benefits would be based on a standard rate for all single adults that would be adjusted for those sharing accommodations. The rate would be based on a formula that balances the competing needs of adequacy; fairness between those on assistance and low-wage earners; and financial incentive to work. And over time, increases would reflect the differences in living costs across Ontario.

In addition to the standard rate, a disability supplement for those who meet the current definition of disability under ODSP, as well as a children’s and sole-support parent’s supplement, would be available through social assistance until the new system is fully implemented, the report recommends.

Until the new disability benefit is available outside welfare, people with disabilities who get jobs would be allowed to keep a portion of their disability welfare supplement, the report adds.

“Like most of us, people with disabilities have a strong desire to work,” the report says.

“However, given the financial disincentive represented by the lack of a disability benefit outside social assistance to help cover the cost of living with a disability, many low-income people with disabilities simply cannot afford to leave the program,” it adds.

The new simplified rate structure would give case workers more time to support recipients’ transition to employment, the commissioners say. Meantime, the province would partner with corporate leaders to champion the hiring of people with disabilities and generate awareness and support for more inclusive workplaces.

Although the report acknowledges the transformation will take time, it urges Queen’s Park to move quickly to improve financial support for people on welfare.

The commissioners are calling for an immediate $100-per-month increase to $699 for single able-bodied adults — the lowest current rate category — as a “down payment on adequacy.” That amount would become the new standard rate upon which the integrated program would be built.

The rate increase would cost $770 million, but the commissioners say at least $430 million of that would be found through administrative savings and the elimination of the Special Diet Allowance and t
pay up taxpayer

North Bay, Canada

#2 Oct 24, 2012
up go your taxs

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