NOTE: The social safety net in Niagara is comprised of those core funding services providing income through Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Service Program (ODSP). Additionally, there is an infrastructure network of many community agencies providing food, clothing, places for social connection and help with employment for those living in poverty or requiring additional physical or social supports. Community Care and Start Me Up Niagara are just two examples. The United Way organizations in Niagara provide funding and leadership for agencies and community service programs that are very engaged in providing prevention and responsive approaches for community action. These community agencies involve many community volunteer hours, as well as the contributions of those who are receiving assistance participating in the work of the agency.
Regarding social assistance, in 2008, a total of 15,500 individuals were on Ontario Works in Niagara, of which one half are children (7,750) and one half of those are between 0 and 6 years of age (3,875) .Source: Niagara Community Services Department, 2008
In 2006, children and their families made up 52% of the people receiving social assistance in Canada. In Niagara (2006) children less than 18 years of age made up 42% of the Ontario Works (OW) caseload and 32% of the ODSP caseload. The number of children relying on OW payments in Niagara was 2% higher than the provincial average. The number of children relying on ODSP was 12% more than Ontario’s average.
In Niagara, in 2006, there were 6,582 cases (1 or more persons per case) receiving Ontario Works (OW) assistance (9,731 in 2010) and 9,608 people receiving support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) (11,943 in 2020). Note: trends and increases for Niagara are described on the next pages. In 2006, the majority of people on OW and ODSP in Niagara were single adults (approximately 50% OW and 76% ODSP). According to Niagara statistics, 39% of the OW caseload is made up of sole support parents and 9% of the ODSP caseload is sole support parents.
Social assistance information for Niagara, 2009:
The total monthly income for those on the Ontario Disability Services Program (ODSP) for 2009 was $1,040 for those who were single, and $2,511 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children (see details of benefits and ages in the figure below). The total income for those on Ontario Works (OW) was $605 and $2,043 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children (see details of ages and benefits in the figure below).The figure below also itemizes the expenses required for each group, including shelter rent, healthy food, transportation, clothing and other expenses. It is estimated that a single person on ODSP spends 50.67% on shelter and a single on OW spends 87.11% of income on shelter. The family of 4 spends 35.88% on shelter and the family of 4 spends 44.10% on shelter. All of them spend over 30% on shelter, which makes them below the LICO poverty line. The figures suggest that a single on ODSP requires 8.37% more in social assistance to cover costs required per month; 39% more for singles on OW: 4.26% more for the family of 4 on ODSP; and a 30% increase is required for the family of 4 on OW.
Source: Niagara Region Community Services, 2011.
Social assistance caseloads in Niagara:
The average number of Ontario Works cases per year reported by Niagara Region Community Services rose sharply from 7,457 to 8,902 in 2009 and rose further to 9,731 in 2010.
Source: Niagara Region Community Services, 2010
In Niagara, the portion of the population receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits continues to increase annually. In June 2010, 4 % of Niagara’s total population relied on ODSP. In the same month, only 3 % of Ontario’s population was relying on ODSP. The average caseload size increased by approximately 28 % from 8,644 cases in 2003 to 11,943 cases in 2010.
Source: A New Legacy of Prosperity, Region of Niagara Community Services, 2011.