New delivery model to assist Cornwall-SDG social assistance caseworkers

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A recent announcement by the provincial government is aiming to alleviate workload on local social services staff members and in doing so, enable them to dedicate more time to connect clients to various services.

As part of the Social Assistance Recovery and Renewal Plan announced last fall, the province worked with municipalities to design a vision to change the way social-assistance programs are delivered and managed. This, the province claimed, will ensure people are getting the right supports at the right time so they can re-enter the workforce.

With the change, the province will gradually take on more program administration, enabling workers at 47 different delivery agents — which includes the City of Cornwall’s social and housing services department — to adopt a more client-based approach.

“The vision outlines plans for a new social assistance delivery model that allows frontline workers to focus on results for people rather than paperwork,” reads a press release.

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A 2018 study revealed that caseworkers spend approximately a quarter of their day — about 400 hours a year — filing and organizing paperwork. The new delivery model will enable the province to focus on overseeing social assistance applications and payments.

“The current administrative process is quite heavy for both clients and staff,” said Mellissa Morgan, manager of social and housing services for the City of Cornwall. “By transferring some of these activities to the province, it will provide staff with more dedicated time to work with clients and address their needs.”

According to Morgan, her department has been preparing for the changes announced for some time.

“We are encouraged that this recovery and renewal plan focuses more on a client-centered approach towards life stabilization,” she said. “This vision will also lead us towards human service integration, which will provide clients with one-stop access to all of the services we provide.”

Throughout the province, over 900,000 residents rely on social assistance, which cost $9.7 billion during the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Work on social assistance reform is already underway and will be phased in over the next several years.

“Ontario is facing deep economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Todd Smith, Minister of children, community and social services. “Our government is taking action by developing a sustainable social assistance program that takes the administrative burden off local front-line workers, so they can spend more time helping their clients connect to community supports that will get them ready for jobs.”

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