Reforms to income security in Ontario to work in tandem with Basic Income pilot

By Laurie Monsebraaten for the Toronto Star

If there’s one thing Helena Jaczek hates it’s losers.

As community and social services minister since 2014, Jaczek is determined to create only winners as she carries out her mandate to improve income security for vulnerable Ontarians, including almost 1 million living on social assistance.

“I said as long as I’m here, there are no losers,” she says, explaining the marching orders she has given to ministry bureaucrats.

It is also the challenge she has presented to members of a working group she will announce Wednesday to help her forge an action plan over the next 14 months.

The goal is to create a system of support both inside and outside social assistance that provides adequate incomes, is simple to understand and is administered equitably across the province.

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Jaczek hopes to begin implementing the reforms in January 2018, once the provincial deficit has been erased.

“We aren’t going to be calling it social assistance reform,” the 65-year-old minister says in a wide-ranging interview about her sprawling portfolio that also includes support for adults with developmental disabilities.

“Because when we say income security, we are talking about all low-income people, not just the welfare wall and the disincentives to getting off social assistance.”

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