Ontario budget social service reform fails the disabled and taxpayers

Cherry-picked Lankin recommendations undermine efficiency, job creation


QUEEN’S PARK –The predictions of social service reform from the 2013 Ontario budget have fallen flat, amounting to little more than lip-service according to Opposition Community and Social Services Critic Toby Barrett.

“After all their talk of reform based on the recommendations of the Lankin/Sheikh and Don Drummond report, Ms. Wynne has cherry-picked the most publicly acceptable ideas, while leaving key pieces of the recommendations for efficiency and cost-reduction at the curb,” Barrett complained. “The selective process has undermined the overall goals for reform these reports were created to support in the first place.

No mention of Ontario Works/ODSP consolidation, no calls for cost-effectiveness, no further oversight, and no red tape reduction means no progress for Ontario’ssocial services.”

Barrett says,while he appreciates government has listened to his calls to allow recipients to keep more of what they earn, he questions why Disability clients will not benefit from the asset level increase given to those on Ontario Works. He adds that given the McGuinty/Wynne government’s track record, he is skeptical the budget’s creation of a panel to look at enhanced employment supports may be little more than window-dressing on a crumbling system.

“There is potential here to reduce the current system’s 800 rules and regulations by at least half, leading to a savings of $140 million a year,” Barrett added. “But given this government’s handling of the provincial purse strings, I admit I have little hope these goals will actually be met.”

In addition to consolidation, red-tape reduction and reduced clawbacks, Barrett noted that the Official Opposition white paper on social services, Welfare to Work released in January also calls for: * client-centered funding * incentives such as tax deductions to foster employment for the disabled * encouragement of innovation in service delivery, through a Social Impact Bond or private sector funded “pay-for-success” model that only pays out if targets are reached; and * a potential benefits-directed debit card to ensure the portion of monthly benefits intended for essential food items is set aside for that purpose -30- For more information contact Toby Barrett 519-428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629