First read of Ontario’s social assistance review disheartening, says director
Community Living Ontario’s Gordon Kyle comments on report released this week
Monday October 29, 2012
While qualifying the review is just out and more time is needed to analyze it fully, Community Living Ontario’s director of social policy and government relations Gordon Kyle admits a first read of the Social Assistance Review Commission’s official report has left him less hopeful than he had anticipated.
“I was hoping to be very excited by the report, and I’m not,” says Kyle, noting he had anticipated the review would make recommendations that would begin to address the poverty Ontario residents who have a disability experience.
Some of the recommendations, such as streamlining supports by eliminating special benefits, appear to be heading in the direction of reducing funding for people who have a disability, says Kyle.
The recommendation to blend Ontario Welfare and the Ontario Disability Support Program could also have negative repercussions for people who have a disability, he says, depending in part on how the additional proposed disability benefit plays out.
“There’s a lot in here that suggests this won’t improve income supports for people,” says Kyle.
The commission expresses optimism in the report that some of the recommendations will help promote more opportunity for employment for people who have a disability.
“If that’s true — and we have to think about it and try to figure out what it all means — than that part of it might be good,” says Kyle.
Since the provincial government has been prorogued indefinitely, another cause for concern is when the recommendations will be appropriately considered.
However, the good news is that this delay will give advocates time to understand the complexity of recommendations and prepare their positioning and message, Kyle says.
Asked how this report ties into the evolution of Ontario’s development services, Kyle notes it essentially clarifies even more the amount of work needed to help government create a coherent system of support for people who have a disability.
Employment and income supports are obviously critical pieces in the overall mix of support people who have a disability require. Given the challenges around how the Social Inclusion Act is now being implemented, as well as the likely issues with these recommendations, the road ahead is not looking easy, he says.
A copy of the report along with many other related documents can be found on the Commission’s website.
You can also read a press release from Community Living Ontario outlining how the report aligns and diverges from the association’s recommendations.
If you would like to join an on-line conversation on this, please visit the Community Living Ontario Facebook page by clicking here.