Food Insecurity amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Food Charity, Government Assistance, and Employment

To mitigate the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the federal government has implemented several financial assistance programs, including unprecedented funding to food charities. Using the Canadian Perspectives Survey Series 2, the demographic, employment, and behavioural characteristics associated with food insecurity in April–May 2020 was examined. One-quarter of job-insecure individuals experienced food insecurity that was strongly associated with pandemic-related disruptions to employment income, major financial hardship, and use of food charity was found, yet the vast majority of food-insecure households did not report receiving any charitable food assistance. Increased financial support for low-income households would reduce food insecurity and mitigate negative repercussions of the pandemic.



Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change

There is a growing "colour-coded" inequity and disparity in Ontario that has resulted in an inequality of learning outcomes, of health status, of employment opportunity and income prospects, of life opportunities, and ultimately of life outcomes. Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change believes that it is only by working together that we can make the needed change for all of our shared benefit

These fact sheets provide data to help understand the racialization of poverty in Ontario. 



Economic Security Programs Reduce Overall Poverty, Racial and Ethnic Inequities

Economic security programs such as Social Security, food assistance, tax credits, and housing assistance can help provide opportunity by ameliorating short-term poverty and hardship and, by doing so, improving children’s long-term outcomes. Over the last half-century, these assistance programs have reduced poverty for millions of people in the United States — including children, who are highly susceptible to poverty’s ill effects.

At the same time, barriers to opportunity, including discrimination and disparities in access to employment, education, and health care, remain enormous and keep poverty rates much higher for some racial and ethnic groups than others. While government programs have done much to narrow these disparities in poverty, further progress will require stronger government efforts to reduce poverty and discrimination and build opportunity for all.



Northwest Territories Income Assistance Handbook

The Income Assistance Program provides Financial Assistance to Northerners to help meet basic and enhanced needs. The program encourages and supports greater self-reliance to improve the quality of lives.

This plain language handbook is for people who may want to play for Income Assistance. It provides information on:

  • The program
  • Who is eligible
  • How to apply or appeal

The handbook also contains helpful contact information on the following resources in the Northwest Territories including:

  • other income security programs
  • health and medical resources
  • renters rights
  • federal disability, seniors, and family supports

 



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.



Your rights at work

This publication explains a worker’s legal rights under the Employment Standards Act regarding hours of work and pay, overtime, breaks, holidays and vacations, and leave from your job. It also has information about how to make a claim against an employer.



Legal Resources Catalogue: Free legal information

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



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.



Benefits and credits toolkit

Benefits and credits provide income and financial support for many individuals. This toolkit contains information on common tax credits and benefits, benefits for specific populations, and practitioner resources including case studies and information on identification documentation for accessing benefits.

We are grateful to West Neighbourhood House in Toronto, Ontario for their contribution in the development of the practitioner resources in this toolkit and to Momentum in Calgary, Alberta for their content consultation support.

Worksheet resources in this toolkit are available as fillable PDFs. Please open with Adobe Acrobat Reader for full functionality.

Latest update on May 5, 2021: Benefits and Credits for people living with disabilities - resource links

March 29, 2021:
 Disability Tax Credit Tool - Disability Alliance BC
Disability Inclusion Analysis of Government of Canada's Response to COVID-19 (report and fact sheets) - Live Work Well Research Centre



Common benefits and credits

Resource links:
Benefits and credits for newcomers to Canada – Canada Revenue Agency
Benefit Finder – Government of Canada
Electronic Benefits and credits date reminders – Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
Income Assistance Handbook Government of Northwest Territories
What to do when you get money from the government – Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)

General emergency government benefits information & navigation
Financial Relief Navigator tool (Prosper Canada)
Changes to taxes and benefits: CRA and COVID-19 – Government of Canada

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) with CRA – Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
Questions & Answers on CERB – Government of Canada
What is the CERB? – Prosper Canada
FAQ: Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Prosper Canada (updated June 10th)

Who can get CERB? – Steps to Justice
CERB: What you need to know about cashing your cheque – FCAC
COVID-19 Benefits (summary, includes Ontario) – CLEO/Steps to Justice
COVID-19 and Income Assistance – CLEO/Steps to Justice

GST/HST credit and Canada Child Benefit
COVID-19 – Increase to the GST/HST amount – Government of Canada
Canada Child Benefit Payment Increase – Government of Canada
Benefits payments for eligible Canadians to extend to Fall 2020 – Government of Canada

Support for students
Support for students and recent graduates – Government of Canada
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) – Government of Canada

Benefits and credits for seniors

Resource links:
Canadian Retirement Income Calculator – Government of Canada
Comparing Retirement Savings Options – Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
Federal Provincial Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum – Employment and Social Services Canada (ESDC)
Retiring on a low income – Open Policy Ontario
RRSP vs GIS Calculator – Daniela Baron
Sources of income for seniors handout – West Neighbourhood House
What every older Canadian should know about: Income and benefits from government programs – Employment and Social Services Canada (ESDC)
 

Voice of Experience: Engaging people with lived experience of poverty in consultations

The engagement of Canadians with lived experiences of poverty in government consultations on poverty reduction is critical. But as hard as governments work to try to include people living in poverty as full participating members in their consultation processes, there are many barriers that continue to impede their participation. This paper explores what these barriers and impediments are.

System transformation in Ontario Works: Considerations for Ontario

This paper focuses on proposed system transformation in Ontario Works, and explores the possibilities and limitations associated with the proposed changes in 2018. First, it looks at the broader context within which the government’s social assistance reforms are taking place. Second, it provides an overview of what is known about some of the structural changes in social assistance to date, as well as an overview of experiences in other jurisdictions that have undertaken similar reforms. In conclusion, the paper outlines some key considerations and unresolved questions that the government will need to address before it can move forward with a plan for reform.



Getting Legal Help: A Directory of Community Legal Clinics in Ontario

This resource provides a directory of community legal clinics in Ontario.

Community legal clinics provide information, advice, and representation on various legal issues, including social assistance, housing, refugee and immigration law, employment law, human rights, workers' compensation, consumer law, and the Canada Pension Plan. Some legal clinics do not handle all of these issues, but staff may be able to refer you to someone who can help.

Community legal clinics are staffed by lawyers, community legal workers, and sometimes law students. Each legal clinic is run by a volunteer board of directors with members from the community. All help is private and confidential and provided free of charge.



Welfare in Canada, 2018

These reports look at the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance (often called “welfare”), taking into account tax credits and other benefits along with social assistance itself. The reports look at four different household types for each province and territory. Established by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Welfare in Canada is a continuation of the Welfare Incomes series originally published by the National Council of Welfare, based on the same approach.



Homelessness and Brain Injury – Program Findings

Across Canada, homelessness has always existed but with the creation of statistical reporting across the country the awareness of the pressure this puts on Canadian society is more apparent. The statistics on homelessness are staggering and understanding the path to homelessness, included by those who have experienced brain injury, is a critical piece in the prevention strategies that must be implemented in order to solve the issues. 

In 2018 the Brain Injury Society of Toronto (BIST) received Ontario Trillium Seed Grant funding for a Homelessness Prevention Coordinator (HPC) whose role was to assist individuals with cognitive disabilities with housing issues. This report discusses the current homeless crisis and its relation to the findings of this project.

 



Removing Savings Penalties for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

This brief discusses the savings penalties in public assistance programs in the United States, also known as asset limits, and that actions that can be taken to eliminate these limits and the barriers towards building savings for families living on low income.



The income of Canadians

This infographic from Statistics Canada shows the median after-tax income of households, by province, as of 2016. It also shows changes in median government transfers, and number of people living on low incomes according to the after-tax low income measure. 



Do State Earned Income Tax Credits Increase Participation in the Federal EITC?

All about the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Community Presentation

Poverty Reduction and Disability Income

Selecting Programs for Integrating Financial Capability Services

Housing Costs and Financial Challenges for Low-Income Older Adults

A Road Map to Eradicate Child & Family Poverty: 2016 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada

How are we doing on social policy? Is the recession paralyzing or transformative?

A Policymaker’s Guide to Basic Income

The Mental Health of Manitoba’s Children

2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card

The statistics and stories in this report tell a painful truth about British Columbia
We like to think of ourselves as a caring, civilized society, but in fact we have
been tolerating and sustaining shameful levels of child and family poverty for
decade



Pilot Lessons. How to design a basic income pilot project for Ontario

No Vacancy. Affordability & Homelessness in Vancouver.

Closing the gap in a generation. Health equity through action on the social determinants of health

Advancing Health Equity through Benefits Screening

The Very Poor and the Affordability of Housing

Cashing your Government of Canada Cheque for Free

Aide sociale: règles qui s’appliquent aux couples


Lisez la présente brochure pour connaître les règles que les agents d’Ontario au travail (OT) et du Programme ontarien de soutien aux personnes handicapées (POSPH) appliquent pour décider :
••si 2 adultes qui habitent ensemble sont des conjoints ou conjointes
••si 2 personnes qui habitent ensemble doivent présenter leur demande d’aide sociale en tant que couple


Appel d’une décision en matière d’aide sociale

CPP Disability Benefits

Encouraging Savings for Public Benefit Recipients, a Win for Families and States

Resource Guide: Lifting Asset Limits in Public Benefit Programs

Welfare Re-form: The Future of Social Policy in Canada

The Working Poor in the Toronto Region: Mapping working poverty in Canada

Toronto Employment & Social Services Programs & Services

An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors

Financial Literacy and the Take-Up of Government Benefits

The Disability Tax Credit: Why it Fails and How to Fix It

When the government establishes a social program whose primary purpose is to help provide support to low-income people with disabilities, its success should be measured on how well it achieves that purpose. Unfortunately, there are reasons to seriously question the usefulness of Canada’s disability tax credit since it is helping so very few of the people it is intended to support. In fact, the credit is helping only a small number of Canadians with disability who qualify for it, and least of all those in the poorest families who receive an average of only $29 annually.

There is an uncomplicated way to begin rectifying this: By making the disability tax credit refundable. Along the same lines as a guaranteed minimum income, or negative income tax, those low-income Canadians with disabilities who qualify for the credit but lack sufficient income to benefit from the credit could simply be made eligible for a refund of the amount they cannot claim.




The Rise and Fall of Social Assistance Use in Canada, 1969-2012

Financial Empowerment: Proven Strategies for Reducing Poverty in Ontario

The Registered Disability Savings Plan Program: Why Isn’t It Helping More People?

Accessing Income-Boosting Benefits Through Tax Filing

Do Limits on Family Assets Affect Particpation in, Costs of TANF?

Exploring the Promise of Asset-Based Social Policies: Reviewing Evidence from Research and Practice

A Life-Course Approach to Social Policy Analysis: A Proposed Framework. Discussion Paper

Taking the First Step: Using Behavioral Economics to Help Incarcerated Parents Apply for Child Support Order Modifications

Income Volatility and Food Assistance Programs

Building Financial Counseling into Social Service Delivery: Research and Implementation Findings for Social Service Programs

Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs. Strategy #5: Integrating Asset Building

Municipal Financial Empowerment: A Supervitamin for Public Programs. Strategy #1: Integrating Professional Financial Counseling

The Dollars and Sense of Solving Poverty

Thriving Residents, Thriving Cities: Family Financial Security Matters for Cities

Accessing Government Benefits and Subsidies. Information for Custodial Grandparents Who May Wish to Apply for Government Benefits and Subsidies. Ontario Edition.

Evaluation of the Family Self-Sufficiency Program: Prospective Study

Hunger Count 2014: A Comprehensive Report on Hunger and Food Bank Use in Canada, and Recommendations for Change

The Town with No Poverty: The Health Effects of a Canadian Guaranteed Annual Income Field Experiment

Monthly household income volatility in the U.S., 1991/92 vs. 2002/03

Need welfare? How to apply to Ontario Works

Working while you are on social assistance

Poverty Reduction Strategy Summary, New Brunswick

Appealing a decision about social assistance


Read this to learn what you can do if you disagree with a decision about assistance from Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). This can include a decision to: refuse to give you financial assistance; reduce the amount of assistance you get; cut off your assistance. You may be able to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal. But first you must ask the office that made the decision to review its decision.


Child and spousal support when you are on social assistance

Disability benefits in Ontario: Who can get them and how to apply

Understanding and Improving Consumer Financial Health in America

Income Volatility: A Primer

Income Volatility: Managing the Swings

Integrating Financial Empowerment Strategies into Social Service Organizations

Ontario’s Social Assistance Poverty Gap

Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services