Working while on OW: What Minister MacLeod's changes to income exemptions would mean

Posted
December 4, 2018

Information from Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC): On November 22, 2018, Minister Lisa MacLeod announced a number of changes to Ontario’s social assistance programs. One of these is a change to the way that earned income will be deducted from the benefit cheques of people on Ontario Works (OW).  

The Minister announced that the OW monthly flat rate earnings exemption – the amount people can earn without any deductions from their benefits – will increase from $200 to $300. The amount that is deducted on income above that amount will also increase, from 50% to 75%. No specifics were provided for when these changes are to take effect. 

Our analysis shows that: 

  • The proposed changes will improve the incomes of people on OW who earn less than $500 net each month, which will help those who have limited ability to work. But people will be worse off as they earn more. As a result, those earning more than $500 net will have less total income, which will leave them with less money to pay for the things they need. This runs counter to the government’s stated goal of providing greater financial incentive to people to work. 
  • People would “earn off” of OW sooner. This would leave them with lower income when they lose other benefits that they get through OW – like drug coverage – and therefore less ability to pay for much-needed services themselves. 

Read more: Working while on OW: What Minister MacLeod's changes to income exemptions would mean