The 2013 Ontario Budget contained some initial steps for reforming social assistance. The budget also noted the government’s committment to starting “discussions with recipients, municipalities, delivery partners and others to set priorities and work through the choices required for transformation”.

As part of this initiative, the Ministry of Community and Social Services wished to hear directly from both Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program clients. Clients have a unique and highly valuable perspective on what is and is not working in the system.

Over the summer and fall months of 2013, the Public Policy Forum conducted a series of half-day discussion sessions with clients on behalf of the Ministry—particularly regarding employment. These sessions were held in 10 cities across the province. Clients were encouraged to draw on their personal experiences to identify and propose ways to reform the system. This paper summarizes the findings and, in the process, provides a unique perspective on social assistance and pathways to employment.

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