Welfare in Canada, 2020

Maytree released the 2020 edition of the Welfare in Canada report. For each province and territory, this report provides data and analysis on the total welfare income that households receiving social assistance would have qualified for in 2020, including COVID-19 pandemic-related supports.

Welfare in Canada is a series that presents the total incomes of four example households who qualify for social assistance benefits in each of Canada’s provinces and territories in a given year.

Welfare in Canada, 2020 looks at the maximum total amount that a household would have received over the course of the 2020 calendar year, assuming they had no other source of income and no assets. Some households may have received less if they had income from other sources, while some households may have received more if they had special health- or disability-related needs.

The report looks at:

  • Social assistance program eligibility tests for assets and earned income;
  • How welfare incomes vary across Canada;
  • The components of welfare incomes in each province and territory;
  • Long-term changes in welfare incomes in each province and territory; and
  • The adequacy of welfare incomes in each province compared to poverty and low-income thresholds.

In addition, this year the report includes a new section that looks at the adequacy of welfare incomes in each province over time, an analysis that hearkens back to past reports prepared by the National Council of Welfare. Also, please note that this report measures the adequacy of welfare incomes relative to both the Market Basket Measure (MBM) – Canada’s Official Poverty Line – and the Deep Income Poverty threshold (MBM-DIP), which is equivalent to 75 per cent of the MBM. This analysis will replace the low-income threshold comparisons in future reports. We hope these additions will be helpful for those using the report.

In each jurisdiction, the total welfare income for which a household is eligible depends on its specific composition. For illustrative purposes, this resource focuses on the welfare incomes of four example household types:

  1. Unattached single considered employable;
  2. Unattached single with a disability;
  3. Single parent with one child, age two; and
  4. Couple with two children, ages ten and 15.



Encouraging tax filing at virtual clinics

In 2020, The Behavioural Insights Team partnered with United Way and Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre to develop and test an email intervention to increase participation in tax filing clinics. An "active choice" email (sample email) significantly increased response rate and attendance to virtual clinics.



Evaluation of the Financial Empowerment and Problem Solving Project: Final Report

The Province of Ontario, through the former Ministry of Community and Social Services (now known as the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS)) entered into a contract with Prosper Canada (PC) in 2015 to fund the Financial Empowerment and Problem Solving (FEPS) pilot project. The FEPS project provided individualized financial counselling to low income program participants along with educational workshops and free tax clinics. An evaluation of the FEPS pilot found that the project exhibited some promising practices and was well received by clients. Building off of the findings from pilot, in 2017 the former Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) entered into a four-year agreement with PC to fund the program at four delivery sites.



COVID-19 Fraud Alerts

GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca is an Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) website that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help you make better financial decisions. This series of videos increases awareness of fraudulent activity during COVID-19. Topic include:

  • Pump-and-dump scams
  • Fake government messages
  • Warnings about your finances
  • Work from home scams
  • Signs of investment fraud
  • Quick high-return schemes



Behavioural insights: key concepts, applications and regulatory considerations

There are numerous factors that influence the decisions that people make. Behavioural insights (BI) recognizes this and, through a combination of psychology, economic and more recently other behavioural research, examines how people are often neither deliberate nor rational in their decisions in the way that traditional models, strategies and policies assume.

Behavioural insights recognize how people actually behave versus traditional economic and market theory of people as rational actors. This report discusses how leading practitioners and regulators around the world are using behavioural insights to address issues in capital markets and improve outcomes for investors and market participants.



Encouraging Retirement Planning through Behavioural Insights

This research report identifies behaviourally informed ways that government, regulators, employers, and financial institutions can encourage retirement planning.

Thirty different initiatives and tactics that could be implemented by a variety of stakeholders to encourage retirement planning are proposed, and interventions are organized around four primary challenges people face in moving from having the intention to create a retirement plan to the action of making a plan: (1) it’s hard to start, (2) it’s easy to put off, (3) it’s easy to get overwhelmed and drop out, and (4) it’s hard to get the right advice.

 

The report also includes the results of a randomized experiment that evaluated several of the approaches proposed in the report. This report was published as part of the Ontario Securities Commission’s strategy and action plan to respond to the needs and priorities of Ontario seniors.



Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada: Statistics and Research

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada releases statistics on insolvency (bankruptcies and proposals) numbers in Canada.

The latest statistics released on November 4, 2020 show that the number of insolvencies in Canada increased in the third quarter of 2020 by 7.9% compared to the second quarter.



Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NEET (not in employment, education or training) indicator, March and April 2020

A fact sheet released by Statistics Canada shows that, in March and April 2020, the proportion of young Canadians who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) increased to unprecedented levels.

The COVID-19 pandemic—and the public health interventions that were put in place to limit its spread—have affected young people in a number of ways, including high unemployment rates, school closures and education moving online.



Questions and answers to legal topics in Ontario

The Community of Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) website contains answers to common questions pertaining to a number of legal topics, including: COVID-19, debt and consumer rights, and employment and work.



Canada’s Forgotten Poor? Putting Singles Living in Deep Poverty on the Policy Radar

This report presents the findings of extensive research about employable singles on social assistance undertaken by Toronto Employment and Social Services, in partnership with the Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation. Drawing on data from 69,000 singles who were receiving social assistance in Toronto in 2016, and 51 interviews with randomly selected participants, the report highlights these individuals’ characteristics, their complex needs, and the barriers they face in moving off social assistance and into employment. Complementing the quantitative analysis, the interviews provide important insights into the daily realities of participants’ lives and their journeys on and off assistance.



Hunger Lives Here: Risks and Challenges Faced by Food Bank Clients During COVID-19

This report provides quantitative and qualitative data about the experience of hunger and poverty in Toronto during COVID-19. Based on phone surveys with over 220 food bank clients in May and June 2020 and an analysis of food bank client intake data, the report demonstrates that COVID-19 has led to increased reliance on food banks. The rate of new clients accessing food banks has tripled since the pandemic began. Among new clients, 76% report that they began accessing food banks as a result of COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn.



Legal Resources Catalogue: Free legal information

This resource provides a list of free legal information resources produced by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO).



Costing a Guaranteed Basic Income During the COVID Pandemic

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) supports Parliament by providing economic and financial analysis for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.

This report responds to a request from Senator Yuen Pau Woo to estimate the post-COVID cost of a guaranteed basic income (GBI) program, using parameters set out in Ontario’s basic income pilot project. In addition, the report provides an estimate of the federal and provincial programs for low-income individuals and families, including many non-refundable and refundable tax credits that could be replaced by the GBI program.



Low Income Retirement Planning

This booklet contains information on retirement planning on a low income. Topics include four things to think about for low income retirement planning, a background paper on maximizing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and determining Old Age Security (OAS) and GIS eligibility for people who come to Canada as adults.



Locked down, not locked out: An eviction prevention plan for Ontario

Ontario tenants who have fallen behind on their rent because of COVID-19 will need provincial help to stay housed when the current eviction ban is lifted. A new analysis calls for targeted rent relief, a gradual easing of the eviction ban, and a reintroduction of rent controls.



Social Assistance Summaries

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory. It was established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy to maintain data previously published by the federal government as the Social Assistance Statistical Report. The data is provided by provincial and territorial government officials.



Defining disability for social assistance in Ontario: Options for moving forward

Narrowing the definition of disability used by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could have serious implications. Improving the program’s assessment process would yield better results for applicants, Ontario's social safety net, and the government.

This report explores the role of ODSP, the risks of narrowing the definition of disability, models of disability assessment from other jurisdictions, and alternative ways that the government could reform the program. Most importantly, the paper recommends that the Ministry focus on improving ODSP’s initial application process. A simplified assessment system would save time and money for applicants, medical professionals, legal clinics, adjudicators, and the Social Benefits Tribunal. These savings should be reinvested back into social assistance.



Providing one-on-one financial coaching to newcomers: Insights for frontline service providers

One-on-one financial help is a key financial empowerment (FE) intervention that Prosper Canada is working to pilot, scale and integrate into other social services, in collaboration with FE partners across the country. FE is increasingly gaining traction as an effective poverty reduction measure. FE interventions include financial coaching and supports that assist people to build money management skills, access income benefits, tackle debt, learn about safe financial products and services and find ways to save for emergencies.

This report shares insights on providing one-on-one financial coaching to newcomers captured through two financial coaching pilot projects that Prosper Canada conducted in collaboration with several frontline community partners.



Introducing the Financial Relief Navigator

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the complexities of the benefits and financial relief measures available to Canadians, we developed the Financial Relief Navigator (FRN), an online resource that helps vulnerable Canadians and those that work with them access critical emergency benefits and financial relief from governments, financial institutions, telecoms, utility and internet providers.

In this one-hour webinar you'll hear from Galen MacLusky and Janet Flynn of Prosper Canada who will give you an overview of the FRN and provide tips on how to support your clients to access critical benefits and financial relief. 

Click 'Get it' below to access the video link, and scroll down to access handouts, slides, and video timestamps for this webinar.

Access the Financial Relief Navigator here.



Presentation slides for this webinar

Handouts for this webinar
Introducing the Financial Relief Navigator (FRN)
Access the Financial Relief Navigator here.

Time-stamps for the video recording:
3:22 – Agenda and Introductions
6:00 – Audience poll
9:00 – Why we created the Financial Relief Navigator (Speaker: Janet Flynn)
11:55 – What’s in the Financial Relief Navigator (Speaker: Janet Flynn)
16:35 – FRN Walkthrough using a Persona (Speaker: Galen McLusky)
33:15 – Tips for using the FRN (Speaker: Galen McLusky)
36:00 – The Working Centre experience using the FRN (Speaker: Sue Collison)
41:15 – Q&A

Virtual tax filing: Piloting a new way to file taxes for homebound seniors

WoodGreen Community Services, a large multi-service frontline social service agency in Toronto, provides free tax preparation services year-round to people living on low incomes. WoodGreen was interested in designing a novel solution to address the tax filing needs of homebound seniors who are unable to access WoodGreen’s free in-person tax-preparation services due to physical or mental health challenges. Specifically, WoodGreen wanted to know… How might we provide high-quality professional tax preparation services to all clients whether or not they are onsite? Prosper Canada and a leading commercial tax preparation software company partnered with WoodGreen Community Services in order to answer this design question.



Supported Self-File: Piloting a new way to empower individuals to file taxes independently

Many frontline community organizations provide free tax preparation services to people living on low incomes across Canada using a variety of methods. However, when COVID-19 struck, a large majority of agencies offering free tax-filing supports were forced to close their doors and halt in-person services. Non-profit organizations, EBO (Ottawa) and WoodGreen Community Services (Toronto) with a long-standing history of delivering tax-filing supports, needed to explore alternative models that catered to the different needs of their clientele.

Prosper Canada and Intuit, a leading commercial tax preparation software company, partnered with WoodGreen and EBO, in order to answer this design question.

These journey maps describe the process of this service flow, from intake to client sessions and post-session activities.