Many people in Ontario agree that Ontario Works needs to be fixed. One of the ways it could be fixed is to give people more help to get a job, so they can get out of poverty and the trap of social isolation.

Some people call this fix ‘opportunity planning’. Others call it ‘human capital development’, or a ‘personalized approach’ with ‘wrap-around services’.

But what do these words mean? What are the pros and cons of ‘opportunity planning’? Are there models for how it might work?

And how would it work given the kinds of jobs available now?

What policies would the government have to change?

And what does this mean for people from disproportionately disadvantaged groups?

A full-day symposium was hosted by ISAC and the Ontario community legal clinic system’s Social Assistance Action Committee (SAAC) in March 2011 to explore these issues.

We videotaped the presentations that were made at the symposium – click on the links below to access the various presentations as well as the question and answer sessions.

Welcome: Transforming OW and “Opportunity Planning”

  • Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy and Legal Services, ISAC
  • Melodie Mayson, Co-Director, Neighbourhood Legal Services

Panel 1: The New World of Work: Labour Market Trends in Toronto and Ontario

Moderator: Naomi Ives, Parkdale Community Legal Services

Question and Answer Period

Panel 2: Opportunity Planning: The Big Picture

Moderator: Mary Marrone, Income Security Advocacy Centre

Panel 3: Opportunity Planning: On the Ground

Moderator: Melodie Mayson, Neighbourhood Legal Services

Wrap Up: Question and Answer and Next Steps