Through a network of 19 offices, Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) manages the third largest social assistance delivery system in Canada. Under the authority of the Ontario Works (OW) Act and Regulations, TESS provides employment services, financial assistance and social supports to Toronto residents to strengthen their social and economic well-being in their communities. TESS delivers the following services:

  • Employment Services
  • Integrated Case Management and Service Planning
  • Financial Supports

Download the Budget Analyst Notes for Toronto Employment & Social Services for detailed information on service levels, key initiatives, challenges and performance measures. You can also review budget highlights below.

Toronto Employment & Social Services encourages purpose and possibility to help the people its serves pursue their best lives. Its vision is to strengthen the social and economic well-being of Torontonians in their communities. Its mission is to provide employment services, financial benefits and social supports that make our vision a reality. Its work is to:

  • Develop and provide integrated employment services, supports and opportunities.
  • Deliver financial benefits.
  • Advocate for policies, programs and services that better support Torontonians in their communities
  • Invest in skilled staff at all levels to respond to a dynamic environment

Download the Toronto Employment & Social Services Program Map to better understand the services and activities it delivers on behalf of the City of Toronto.

Operating Budget

The total cost to deliver these services to Toronto residents is $1.147 billion gross and $91 million net.


  • 0% Budget increase over the 2018 Approved Net Operating Budget to maintain existing service levels and meet additional service demands.
  • $8.228M Efficiency savings as a result of modernization, transformation and innovation initiatives and staff changes.
  • $0.263M New/enhanced funding for additional program managers to implement the Woodbine Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) by connecting employers with qualified individuals in receipt of OW from the Woodbine Local Area and for additional security resources at two office locations.
  • 2020/2021 Increases primarily for known inflationary adjustments for salaries, benefits and contracts.

Key Challenges

  • OW recipients are increasingly more distant from the labour market, remain on social assistance longer and require more intensive supports to transition to employment.
  • More than 50% of jobs in the GTHA are defined as precarious and Toronto’s youth unemployment rate is double the overall rate and among the highest in any Canadian city.
  • Expectations are that provincial OW policy changes together with continued growth in refugee cases will result in higher caseloads in 2019.
  • Provincial changes focusing on improvements to the Social Assistance system over the next few years will have budget implications.

Priority Actions

  • Enhance client outcomes through high impact activities such as service planning – goal-oriented service plans informed by client needs, skills and interest.
  • Focus on connecting OW clients to employment opportunities and/or relevant programs and services that increase employability.
  • Additional funding of $1.803 million net and 21 positions are recommended to manage an increased caseload of 2,000 to address growth in refugee cases and OW policy changes.
  • Actively partner with the province to modernize social assistance delivery with the aim of improving client outcomes, achieving efficiencies and reducing barriers (e.g.‘My Benefits’ online portal, Electronic document management system).

Capital Budget and Plan

The 10-year Capital Plan is $7.5 million to support TESS objective to transform and modernize service delivery while integrating services across programs to improve client experience.

Highlights – 1 Year

  • $3.623M Continue the implementation phase (Phase 2) of the Human Services Integration (HSI) project in partnership with Children’s Services (CS) and Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA).

Highlights – 10 Years

  • $7.510M Service Improvement project to integrate access and intake to income support programs by implementing a shared contact centre and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system across TESS, CS and SSHA. Funding by the three partnering divisions will be provided equally from the Reserves/Reserve Funds.

Find more information on specific City issues, opportunities and challenges in the briefing notes and reports prepared by City staff. Documents will be posted as they become available.

Presentations made to committee and City Council provide an overview of the 2019 City budget. Documents will be posted as they become available.