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Local Ontario Works cases decline as people switch to other supports

Ontario Works director attributes this mainly to those who moved to federal benefits
The County of Wellington Social Services building at 129 Wyndham St. N houses the local Ontario Works office. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

GUELPH/WELLINGTON – Ontario Works cases continue to decline as more clients have shifted to COVID benefits.

Data shows cases have been declining since May and hit a new low in November. 

A report to County of Wellington social services committee shows the number of Ontario Works cases in the first four months of 2020 to be generally higher than the same period in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

But at a Wednesday afternoon social service committee meeting, Stuart Beumer, Ontario Works director, attributed a subsequent drop to an increase of federal emergency benefits such as CERB and EI has offset applications. 

There was a caseload of just over 1,600 which was a drop of 400 cases — or 20 per cent less — than in November 2019. It is also lower than any other month in the data period from 2017-2020.

Beumer noted these federal benefits often offer more than double what Ontario Works can dollar-wise.

He also said staff have had success moving clients to employment. 

However, Beumer anticipates when federal benefits end they will again see a surge in social assistance applications.