Emily Hollington, Lanark County’s Director of Social Services, met with Smiths Falls town council during Monday night’s virtual council meeting. She shared a presentation to outline the province-mandated changes that will be coming to Social Assistance.
Hollington explained that Social Assistance will be moving to a person-centred system, where clients have increased access to case workers. Currently, case workers spend the majority of their time on financial administration. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that financial administration can be done as a remote service – but what can’t be done remotely is person-to-person support. “Social assistance will become a tool in the caseworker’s toolbox instead of the other way around.”
The province and municipalities will continue to share the load of Social Assistance, but the province will focus on streamlining administration, while caseworkers within municipalities will provide individualized services and supports to their clients to encourage life stabilization.
Councillor Dwyer commented, “It’s so important to make sure those services are still locally accessible to people. Are you anticipating that this will lead to an increase or decrease to your operational cost, long term? Do you envision fewer staff, or more or less the same?”
Hollington replied, “There’s room to provide a lot more support to people than we’re doing right now. What exactly it will look like, I don’t know yet.
“My thought with this is it will be more hands on. So instead of just giving a client a number to telephone for access to services, helping them establish contact, maybe meeting with them in person or virtually. I’m hoping it’s much more intensive; by the sound of it, there is mention of community based work.”
Councillor Allen noted that not all changes are good changes, but she is “looking forward to seeing how it unfolds in our community.”