Gendering the Social Assistance Review: A Workshop

February 25, 2011 9 a.m. to 5 p.m

York University Research Tower Rm 519




Click for the Workshop Schedule

This invitation only workshop is co sponsored by the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, and the YWCA of Toronto.  See the list of confirmed participants and Reading Resources on the topic here.  

In November 2010, the Ontario Government announced a Social Assistance Review. Find out more about this process from ISAC’s backgrounder, here.   We are concerned that the  Social Assistance Review Advisory Council’s Final Report did not sufficiently emphasize the critical importance of a gender and equity analysis in framing social assistance policy into the future.    The IFLS (Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode), the Toronto YWCA, and ISAC (Income Security Advocacy Centre) are hosting a workshop to discuss how we might ensure the Review is indeed informed by critical gender and equity lenses.

Laying the Groundwork for Participation

The workshop will be a relatively small event (see the participant list here), with both academics working in areas of social policy related to the review, as well as women from community-based organizations.  We hope that the discussions will enable us to identify key issues and lay the groundwork for effective participation in the review process.

Beyond Silos

One of the important goals is to share knowledge about specific programs in order to move beyond silos, to see the connections, congruities and disjunctures, and to begin to imagine new approaches that move beyond existing programmatic boxes.

Framing Questions

We have provisionally identified a number of questions that might help to frame our discussion and we would welcome your thoughts about these and other questions.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages in using the tax system to deliver social benefits and in particular, what are the implications for women?  What might recent experiences in the implementation of Ontario’s Child Benefit tell us about the use of the tax system?
  • How is ‘the family’ regulated through the tax and social assistance systems, and in particular, how is power within families impacted by these systems?  What might this suggest in terms of benefit structure and delivery?
  • What should employment training for women look like?  There is enormous emphasis placed upon moving women off social assistance and into work through “opportunity planning”, but what work is actually available in the context of the growth of precarious work, the concentration of women and racialized persons in that work, and the diminution of employment standards?  Moreover, what are the implications for women, given the care-giving responsibilities they shoulder?
  • Given the central role violence plays in women’s poverty and in curtailing women’s ability to develop their capabilities, how ought this knowledge shape the architecture for the delivery of social benefits?

Reading Resources

click here for more

Social Assistance Review Advisory Council Final Report

Terms of Reference for the Review (pdf)

John Stapleton, “Zero Dollar Linda”: A Meditation on Malcolm Gladwell’s “Million Dollar Murray,” the Linda Chamberlain Rule, and the Auditor General of Ontario.  Open Policy

Janet Halley & Kerry Rittich Critical Directions in Comparative Family Law: Genealogies and Contemporary Studies of Family Law Exceptionalism 58Am.J.CompL.753

Income Security Advocacy Centre Social Assistance Review Resources page

Organizing Committee

Sarah Blackstock, Director of Advocacy & Communications, YWCA Toronto

Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode Hall Law School, Director, IFLS

Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy and Legal Services, ISAC

Janet Mosher, Osgoode Hall Law School

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