Modernizing Income Security for Working Age Adults
To address the issue of underemployment in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), CivicAction convened a over 50 opinion leaders from diverse backgrounds to launch a Task Force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults (MISWAA) in 2004.
CivicAction’s 2003 Summit identified that nearly 30% of Canada’s low wage workers can’t make ends meet because they don’t earn enough to cover the cost of living, especially in larger cities. The Summit also found that only 22% of unemployed people in the GTA benefit from Employment Insurance (EI).
CivicAction and St. Christopher House launched a Task Force for MISWAA in 2004. The MISWAA Task Force addressed this looming crisis by charting reforms to income security policies and programs that would better support low-income adults in gaining economic independence and participating in the labour market.
Provided a Roadmap
Work culminated in the May 2006 report, Time for a Fair Deal. It was a guide to modernize income security to ensure the full economic participation of working-age adults.
The Task Force’s work helped to introduce the federal Working Income Tax Benefit, the Ontario Child Benefit, and a provincial dental plan for individuals with low income.
We believe the Task Force was unprecedented in a number of respects: in getting leaders from all those sectors, including business, together at the same table to talk about income security; in having all of those think tanks involved in one Working Group; and in the extent of the involvement of people directly affected by the problems with the system.
This initiative drove change in communities across the province. As an example of the impact of this work, the poverty rate for children in Ontario declined from 15.2% in 2008 to 14.6% in 2009, with 19,000 fewer Ontario children living in poverty in part because of the Ontario Child Benefit.