Evidence Based Rates and the Liberal Leadership Race
January 10, 2013 Poverty Reduction
The Ontario Liberal Party meets on the weekend of January 25 - 27th to choose the next Premier of the province.
One of the files on the new Premier’s desk the day after she/he is chosen will be the report of the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario.
This report, called Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario, charts “a new course for social assistance towards a simpler, more effective, and more accountable system....”
There are controversial aspects to the report, to be sure. One issue, though, that is not contentious is that a new system must set rates for recipients that are adequate to live on and an evidence based method to determine the rates must be established.
It is a matter of great importance to us that social assistance rates need to have some relation to the actual cost of rent, food and other basic necessities. Over the years the clinic has done a lot of work on developing a method for determining rates. To that end we met with the Commission and subsequently made this recommendation to them:
That the Government of Ontario establish an arm’s length body to recommend evidence-based social assistance rates on an annual basis. Those rates should be based on an analysis of the actual costs of rent, a healthy food basket, and other basic necessities in communities across Ontario, and should provide a level of assistance that will allow individuals and families to live with dignity....
Brighter Prospects came out in November. In its Recommendation #27 there is a call for the province to adopt a “rational methodology” to set social assistance rates. But such a methodology has already been articulated. So why reinvent the wheel?
Legislation Introduced in 2007
Many years ago we worked with Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin and put together a bill to establish an Ontario Social Assistance Rates Board. The former Bill 235 was introduced in the legislature in June of 2007 but “died” when the legislature was adjourned.
You can look at the legislation here on our Fast Facts page at https://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/did-you-know
The Social Assistance Rates Board that was proposed back in 2007 would meet at least six times a year and give an annual report to the Minister of Community and Social Services recommending appropriate social assistance rates. Recommendations for rates could include regional variations. The legislation laid out a process and timeline and requires the Minister to respond to the recommendations.
We think you’ll agree this legislation makes as much sense now as it did in 2007.
Reforming the Social Assistance system as part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy was a major initiative of the McGuinty government. While there is much that needs to be changed with the current system, the creation of a rates board as described above should be a priority.
We’re contacting the Liberal leadership candidates and asking them to support a Rates Board.
We hope you will too.
Find out more at our Make Change Page https://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/make-change
Posted January 10, 2013