ONTARIO WORKS PROGRAM OVERVIEW by gbd17873

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									ONTARIO WORKS PROGRAM OVERVIEW




Ministry of Community and Social Services
               May 2001
BACKGROUND
• The Government of Ontario reformed welfare shifting social assistance toward
  an employment focus. The principles of Ontario Works were introduced and
  phased in across the province through 1996 and 1997. In May 1998, the
  Ontario Works Act was proclaimed and the Ontario Works program replaced
  the existing welfare program.

• Ontario Works provides social assistance and employment assistance to people
  in financial need in Ontario.

• The Ontario Works program was developed by the province and is delivered by
  municipalities. The province continues to expand the program to respond to
  the needs of people who access the program.

• Ontario Works has three objectives:

  - Ensuring that people on welfare take responsibility for finding work and
    becoming self-sufficient.
  - Providing an effective transition to employment.
  - Making welfare fair for people who need help and for the taxpayers who pay
    the cost.
BACKGROUND (cont'd.)

• Ontario’s new welfare system is based on several key principles:

  Ø Welfare is temporary, not permanent. Welfare is a program of last resort.
    It provides short-term financial assistance to those most in need while they
    participate in activities leading to paid employment.

  Ø Doing nothing on welfare is no longer an option. Participation is not just an
    expectation, but a requirement. In order to receive financial assistance,
    people on welfare must, learn, train, find work, or contribute to their
    communities. Participation is mandatory for all able-bodied people,
    including sole-support parents with school-aged children.

  Ø The new system is based on mutual accountability and responsibility.
    Municipalities are required to provide a balanced program of employment
    supports. Welfare recipients must participate in those activities that will
    speed their progress towards employment.




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FUNDING FOR SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

• The funding for Ontario Works is cost shared between the provincial
  government and the municipal government;

  • Total assistance provided: provincial share 80%, municipal share 20%

  • Administration of the program: provincial share 50%, municipal share 50%




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PROGRAM OVERVIEW

• Eligibility to receive welfare is based on an assessment of financial need and
  the recipient’s participation in employment activities.

  Ø A participation agreement is a negotiated agreement between a participant
    and a worker, and includes employment assistance activities that move the
    participant to paid employment. The agreement is updated as activities are
    completed or new activities are added.

  Ø Participation requirements may be deferred for specific reasons, such as
    being a sole support parent whose child is too young to attend school,
    caring for a disabled parent, or illness.

  Ø If applicants or recipients at any time refuse to participate or to honour their
    commitments, their financial assistance may be reduced or cancelled.

• Ontario Works provides financial assistance to those applicants that meet the
  financial assessment criteria and agree to participate in the program.



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PROGRAM OVERVIEW
ONTARIO WORKS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

• Basic financial assistance provided under Ontario Works includes:

  Ø income assistance for basic needs and shelter;

  Ø benefits for specific needs including prescription drugs, basic dental and
    vision care, moving costs, funerals and burials, community and employment
    start-up expenses; and

  Ø emergency assistance.

• Assistance is also available to individuals for participation related expenses
  such as transportation, supplies and equipment, clothing and grooming,
  reference checks, fees for medical and training certificates and child care
  costs.




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PROGRAM OVERVIEW
ONTARIO WORKS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
                       BASIC NEEDS AND SHELTER RATES

                          (Renters, owners and boarders)


                                  Basic Needs   Shelter (max.) Total (max.)

Single Person                         195            325           520
Couple                                390            511           901
Couple + 1 Child (1)                  476            554          1,030
Couple + 2 Children                   576            602          1,178
Sole Parent + 1 Child (1)             446            511           957
Sole Parent + 2 Children              532            554          1,086
Sole Parent + 3 Children              632            602          1,234

(1) All children under age 13.

The amount in the total column is based on cases with no income and
accommodation costs at the maximum.
                                    May 2001                              7
PROGRAM OVERVIEW
EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES
• Ontario Works is focused on getting people ready for and back to work.
  Ontario Works helps people to determine what they need to become
  employed. Some participants need to update or upgrade their skills. Some
  need to complete their basic education or training for a particular job. Others
  simply need help in finding a job and staying employed.

• Ontario Works addresses each of these needs through a range of employment
  activities which include:

  Ø A flexible range of practical services and supports to help participants while
    they are actively looking for a job.
  Ø Ontario Works placements to build skills and valuable experience and make
    a contribution to society and to help find the jobs people need.
  Ø Basic Education and Training.
  Ø Job Skills Training.
  Ø Learning, Earning, and Parenting (LEAP) to break the cycle of dependency
    for teen parents.
  Ø Earnings Incentives to help people make the transition to work.


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SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
JOB SEARCH SERVICES AND SUPPORTS

• Ontario Works provides a flexible range of practical services and supports to
  help participants while they are actively looking for a job, including:

  Ø Information on local job conditions and available local resources, such as
    education and training opportunities, employment counseling centres, Job
    Connect, and help in accessing these resources.

  Ø Help in identifying skills and experience, finding out about local companies
    with job openings, workshops on how to look for work, letter writing,
    interview preparation, self-employment opportunities, and how to present in
    an interview and be successful on the job.

  Ø Advice from staff and access to equipment and services to support job
    search, including use of telephones, faxes, photocopiers, computers, job
    boards, and computerized job banks.

• Last year, 1999/2000, more than 111,000 people took part in activities that
  provided them with practical help in finding a job.

                                   May 2001                                       9
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
ONTARIO WORKS PLACEMENTS

• Ontario Works placements include community placements with not-for-profit,
  or public work places as well as an employment placement in a paid job

• Placements are a successful way to help participants by providing
  opportunities to build self esteem, connect to the job market and contribute to
  their communities

• Ontario Works placements provide participants with:

  • Current, practical work experience
  • Updated and new job skills
  • Improved confidence in their abilities
  • Up-to-date job references
  • Contacts with employers
  • A job (through Employment Placement)




                                   May 2001                                    10
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
ONTARIO WORKS PLACEMENTS (cont'd.)
• Community placements may not displace any paid employment in the agencies where
  they are located. This means that community placements may not replace work being
  done by a paid employee within the past two years.

• Community placements are limited to 70 hours per month to ensure that participants
  continue to look for paid employment through participation in other employment
  assistance measures.

• Examples of community placements include: property manager for a local church,
  maintenance support for a co-op housing complex, an assistant with persons with
  special needs, and tree planting on a land reclamation project.

• In Employment Placements, participants are hired by an employer with the assistance of
  the Ontario Works delivery agent, and are paid the prevailing wage for the position.

• Employment placements must not take jobs away from current employees by replacing
  them with people on welfare, or filling vacancies that have resulted from layoffs.

• Employment placement services may also include financial support for employers who
  provide on-the-job training, job coaching, additional supervision, and financial assistance
  with workplace safety insurance.

• In 1999/2000, over 30,000 people took part in Ontario Works placements.
                                        May 2001                                           11
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
BASIC EDUCATION
• Education can be an important factor in enabling some people to make the transition to
  work. More and more jobs and employers demand higher levels of education, as well as
  good writing and math skills.

• Ontario Works screens participants and refers them to basic education and training in
  their local community.

• Through Ontario Works, basic education and training programs help people prepare to
  meet the demands of the workplace.

• These programs allow people to:

  Ø Complete their secondary school education (Grade 12 or equivalency);

  Ø Obtain academic prerequisites for entry into job skills training;

  Ø Improve their language skills in either English or French; and

  Ø Upgrade their literacy and numeracy skills.



                                        May 2001                                          12
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
JOB SKILLS TRAINING

• Through Ontario Works, participants can access the job skills training
  necessary to meet the changing needs of today’s global economy.

• Ontario Works is helping people access training programs by referring
  participants to community colleges, private sector and community-based
  organizations for job specific training.

• Ontario Works helps participants get on-the-job training, often the best kind of
  training.

• Training includes workplace skills and training placements, such as co-op
  training, occupational skills program and special certificate courses, like basic
  computer applications, word processing, professional sales, and chainsaw and
  forklift operation.

• In 1999/2000, over 40,000 people were actively preparing themselves for work
  through basic education and job-specific skills training.

                                    May 2001                                      13
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
LEARNING EARNING AND PARENTING (LEAP)

• LEAP is a targeted strategy for teen parents who have not completed high
  school, and their children.

• The objectives of LEAP are to;

  Ø Break the cycle of dependency on social assistance.
  Ø Encourage teen parents to complete high school, as a first step to achieving
    economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their children.
  Ø Help teen parents to become more effective caregivers.
  Ø Foster healthy child developments; give children a better start in life.

• LEAP is mandatory for 16- and 17-year old parents on Ontario Works who
  have not completed high school. Single parents and couples aged 18 to 21 on
  welfare may participate in LEAP voluntarily if they have not completed high
  school.

• Teen parents who are not willing to participate in LEAP are not eligible to
  receive assistance.
                                    May 2001                                    14
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
LEARNING, EARNING, AND PARENTING (LEAP)
(continued)
• LEAP supports:

    • Learning by requiring regular attendance by participants in an educational program
      leading to a high school diploma. Other supports include help with a second
      language, literacy, or numeracy problems, as well as learning and other disabilities.

    • Earning by assisting in the development of employment skills through school co-op
      programs, youth apprenticeship and job shadowing, as well as part-time and
      summer employment.

    • Parenting and Child Development through group sessions, participation in the
      Health Babies, Health Children program, home visits, one-on-one coaching, mutual
      support networks, mentoring programs and drop-in centres.

• Participants who successfully complete LEAP and graduate from high school receive a
  $500 payment as either a:
    • bursary for post-secondary education or training

    • trust for child – Registered Employment Savings Plan

                                       May 2001                                          15
SPECIFIC EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE MEASURES:
EARNINGS INCENTIVES

• For many welfare recipients, working part-time is often the most important first step
  towards getting a full-time job.

• Ontario Works supports people in making that transition through earnings incentives
  which allow participants to receive welfare until their earnings are enough to provide for
  themselves and their families without the assistance of welfare.

• Participants are eligible for a number of exemptions that allow recipients to earn income
  and still receive assistance:

  Ø A fixed amount based on family size: single $143, couple $249, sole parent with child
    $275, couple with child $295.
  Ø A percentage of what they earn through employment based on time on assistance
    with earnings from employment: 0-12 months with earnings 25%, 13-24 15%, >24
    0%.
  Ø Child care expenses necessary to support employment: licensed care actual cost;
    community informal child care up to $390 per child per month.

• On average, in 1999/2000, almost 60,000 people on welfare were working in paid
  employment- mostly in part-time jobs.


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OTHER ONTARIO WORKS FUNCTIONS:
ELIGIBILITY REVIEW

• As part of the Ontario Works reforms, the Ministry has standardized the
  process for reviewing ongoing eligibility for financial assistance. This is part of
  the government’s effort to streamline business processes and develop the
  technology necessary to support welfare reform.

• The Consolidated Verification Process (CVP) is the new verification and review
  process for social assistance cases. It helps weed out fraud and makes sure
  that the right people get the right amount of money at the right time.

• Any person who was convicted of fraud against social assistance is
permanently ineligible for assistance.


• By ensuring that only people entitled to assistance are receiving it, social
  assistance program costs and caseloads are being reduced.

• When the new eligibility review systems are fully in place, the taxpayer savings
  will be up to $200 million a year, every year.
                                     May 2001                                      17
EXPANSION OF THE ONTARIO WORKS PROGRAM
WELFARE-TO-WORK ACTION PLAN
• Announced in 1999, the government’s Welfare-to-Work Action Plan for Ontario
  Works Placements included several initiatives to increase placement
  opportunities for Ontario Works participants across the province.

• The Welfare-to-Work Action Plan will double the number of placements by
  2002 so that more people on welfare will have the opportunity to participate
  and benefit from a placement.

• Under the Welfare-to-Work Action Plan, the ministry:


  Ø Provided financial support to municipalities through the Ontario Works
    Placement Innovation Fund,
  Ø Increased funding to municipalities that exceeded their placement targets,
  Ø Established an Ontario Works Placement Secretariat to help develop more
    placements, and
  Ø Expanded the number of placements in the Ontario Public Service.



                                  May 2001                                       18
EXPANSION OF THE ONTARIO WORKS PROGRAM
WELFARE-TO-WORK ACTION PLAN –INNOVATION
FUND
• The Fund was introduced in 1999 to support new and innovative placement
  development ideas.

• So far, over 120 municipal projects have been funded through the Innovation Fund.

• Projects range from hiring specialized staff to identify and assess clients with multiple
  barriers and place them in specially designed placements to supporting viable
  transportation strategies presented for rural and remote areas.

• Delivery agents may choose to partner with community agencies that will sponsor
  valuable placement opportunities for participants.

• In 1999, $10 million was made available for Ontario Works placements.

• In 1999, Innovation Funding supported 123 projects for $11,966,473, to result in 28,462
  placements.

• In 2000, another $10 million was made available for community and employment
  placements.


                                         May 2001                                             19
EXPANSION OF THE ONTARIO WORKS PROGRAM
WELFARE-TO-WORK ACTION PLAN –INCREASED
FUNDING
• The purpose of increased funding is to reward delivery agents that exceed their
  placement targets for 1999/2000, 2000/2001 and 2001/2002.

• In addition, in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002, when Ontario Works delivery agents exceed
  their previous year’s target, they will receive $500 per placement above the 1999-2000
  target up to the current year’s minimum.

• In 1999, 28 municipalities exceeded their placement targets for 1999-2000 - $1000 for
  each placement above the municipal target for a total of $7,170,000.

• Municipalities are able to make the choices about how to invest this increased funding in
  local human services priorities.

• In 1999/2000, the provincial target was equivalent to 15% of the caseload with
  mandatory requirements

• In 2000/2001, the provincial target is equivalent to 22.5% of the caseload with
  mandatory requirements.

• In 2001/2002, the provincial target is equivalent to 30% of the caseload with mandatory
  requirements.
                                        May 2001                                           20
EXPANSION OF THE ONTARIO WORKS PROGRAM
NEW INITIATIVES

• The ministry continues to expand the Ontario Works Program by:


  Ø Providing remedial training in math, reading and writing. The training will be
    mandatory for all non-learning disabled participants who need it to help
    ensure they are job-ready.

  Ø Providing mandatory drug addiction treatment for welfare recipients for
    whom addiction is a barrier to employment.

  Ø Investing in training for welfare caseworkers to ensure that staff on the
    front lines are able to deal with the hard to serve cases, training
    caseworkers for the new focus of their profession – helping move people
    from welfare to work.




                                   May 2001                                      21

								
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