Ontario’s Social Assistance Programs: A Violence Against Women Perspective

Poverty and violence against women are interconnected. Poverty marginalizes women, increasing their risk of victimization. Women experiencing violence often experience financial harm, including loss of control over finances and/or limited ability to access employment. Without access to income, housing or employment, poverty can trap women in abusive relationships. Furthermore, financial hardship after leaving an abusive relationship is a near-universal experience for women.

This policy brief analyzes the impacts of the current Ontario social-assistance programs and makes recommendations to improve social-assistance programs to meet the needs of women across the province. In preparation for this policy brief, we held an open forum on Social Assistance Reform and Women in September 2018 in Toronto, which was attended by more than 40 agencies, advocates, researchers and women with lived experience of violence from across the city.