Part 3 – Region of Peel

Ontario Works

IThe total number of persons seeking support through Ontario Works (OW) continued to trend upward in Peel(see figure 48). At the end of the year 2016, total OW caseloads in Peel increased from 217,238 cases in 2015 to 222,886 cases in 2016, a growth of 2.6 per cent. On an average monthly basis, there were 18,574 cases per month in 2016, up from 18,103 cases recorded in 2015. The increase in OW caseloads occurred throughout the year registering respective quarterly increases of 3.1 per cent, 3.0 per cent, 3.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent throughout the year.

The growth in Ontario Works caseloads in Peel Region continued in 2016,
but at a slower pace

Since 2002 the OW caseload has trended upward with annual increases every year except for 2007; stronger than average increases were recorded in 2009 (by 28.5 per cent) and 2010 (by 14.3 per cent).

The increase in OW caseloads has continued despite significant labour market improvement since 2015(see figure 49). In 2015 employment in Peel’s labour market increased by 22.0 per cent. This represented the highest increase observed in Peel’s labour market since Peel specific labour market data became available in 2001. This was followed by a 5.0 per cent increase in 2016. During in the same two year period, the changes in the OW caseloads remained relatively subdued, going against the expectations for a reduction in the demand for social assistance when there is labour market improves. The lack of synchrony between the changes in OW caseloads and employment in 2015 may be the results of other factors observed in the period.

Two main factors were identified as possible underlying influences that contributed to the persistent increase in the number of people looking for government support:

  • Increase in precarious type of employment: In a recent analysis, it was observed that precarious type employment has been the driving force in the employment growth recorded in Peel between 2006 and 2016. During the period, temporary and part-time increased at respective rates of 44.5 per cent and 35.5 per cent, while the more desirable types of employment types like full-time and permanent employment increased at respective rates of approximately 26.6 per cent and 25.9 per cent. Temporary and contract employment increased by 81.3 per cent to fuel the growth in temporary employment. These changes suggest that precarious type employment led growth during the period. In such instance, even though a significant number of Peel resident were securing job opportunities, these employees may have required additional social assistance support.
  • The shift in the sectoral composition of employment: Peel’s labour market is undergoing a long term shift away from the goods producing (led by a decline in manufacturing employment) to service industries. A detailed analysis of the shifts reveals that the shift observed was from higher paying sectors (like manufacturing) to lower paying sectors including transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and food services

The moderation in the growth in Ontario Works caseloads in Peel Region

Though OW caseload continued to trend upward, the pace of the growth in caseloads has moderated. Between 2012 and 2016, the growth rate of the OW caseload moderated from a high of 7.5 per cent in 2012 to a low of 2.6 per cent in 2016.

As a proportion of population, average monthly OW caseload was 1.2 per cent in 2016. This was down from 1.31 per cent in the preceding year and a slight deviation from the upward trend in this indicator since 2008. Since 2009, the average OW caseloads as a proportion of the population, increased from 0.81 per cent to a high of 1.31 per cent in 2015 (see figure 50).

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