Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) provides employment services, financial assistance and social supports to Torontonians to strengthen their social and economic well-being in their communities.

Budget Notes

Our vision is to strengthen the social and economic well-being of Torontonians in their communities. Our mission is to provide employment services, financial benefits and social supports that make our vision a reality. Our 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.

Toronto Employment and 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.

2018 Budget Summary

The total cost to deliver these services to Toronto residents is $1,096.898 million gross and $90.517 million net.

Through the Provincial Ontario Works (OW) benefits upload savings, operational efficiencies, and recovery of $2.700 million from the OW reserve as a bridging strategy, TESS is able to fully offset the operating pressures generating savings of $20.020 million. The 2018 caseload has been set at 84,000, the same level as 2017 and in-line with current caseload levels.

Fast Facts

  • Third largest social assistance delivery system in Canada, providing benefits and services through a network of 19 offices across the City.
  • Contracts with 58 community agencies and organizations across the City to deliver a broad range of employment programs.
  • Implementation lead for the City’s Workforce Development Strategy, which aims to assist employers to address their workforce challenges and actively support job seekers to compete in the labour market.
  • Supports Social Development, Finance & Administration in implementing key recommendations from the City’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.
  • Co-locating with Toronto Children’s Services (TCS) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) at multiple sites in order to improve and streamline services to mutual clients.
  • Supported 28,200 clients to either exit Ontario Works (OW) for employment or start a job placement.
  • Assessed 49,200 applications for OW.
  • Developed/updated 200,000 individual service plans.

Trends

  • The projected average caseload for 2017 is expected to remain on budget at 84,000.
  • On average, the percentage of people on assistance for more than 2 years is projected to be 49.0% in 2017 versus 50.3% in 2016.
  • Increasingly people remaining on OW are more distant from the labour market, remain on social assistance longer and require more intensive supports to transition to employment. The target is to continue to reduce the percentage of people on assistance for more than 2 years

Key Service Deliverables for 2018

Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) offers financial assistance for basic needs like shelter, food, clothing and health related items for clients and their families. In addition, it provides employment assistance such as one on one service planning, and skills/job-specific training.

The 2018 Operating Budget will enable TESS to continue to:

  • Manage an average caseload of 84,000 and assist 28,000 unemployed City residents find and/or sustain employment.
  • Continue to modernize the delivery of Ontario Works in Toronto to improve effectiveness and efficiency, for example:
    • Implementation of the first phase of the new Service Delivery Model
    • Implementation of Two-Way Secure E-mail which will add secure e-mail as a new communication channel with clients
  • Pilot and implement a common service planning model in order to improve client experience and outcomes.
  • Increase the profile and success of the City’s Workforce Development Initiatives:
    • Through the Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE) program to increase the number of employers offering employment opportunities to youth.
    • Increase work-based learning opportunities for Toronto youth (18-29) through the implementation of the City’s Youth Employment Action Plan.
    • Work with employers to develop new sector based approaches to expand job opportunities for unemployed low income Toronto residents, specifically OW clients.
  • Enhancing customer service and operational efficiencies through cluster-wide integration by implementing the Human Services Integration (HSI) project.
  • Implement key recommendations in the 2018 City of Toronto Poverty Reduction Work plan, including the Transit Fare Equity Program, as well as support the implementation of broader Poverty Reduction Strategy objectives.

Our Key Issues & Priority Actions

  • OW recipients are increasingly more distant from the labour market, remain on social assistance longer and require more intensive supports to transition to employment.
    • Increase the profile and success of the City’s Workforce Development initiatives.
  • Provincial funding caps with no annual inflation adjustments puts pressure on the City as expenditures above the funding envelope are 100% funded by the City.
    • Provincial program delivery funding for the OW business cycle that commenced April 1st 2017 dropped by $16.093 million due to a decline in caseload over the previous two years. The 2017 budget included a reduction in funding of $12.002 million, with the remaining $4.091 million included in the 2018 Operating Budget.
    • The reduction has been mitigated through a combination of new efficiency savings ($4.201 million) on top of efficiencies introduced in the 2017 budget ($2.992 million) and reserve draws.
    • To ensure evolving client needs are addressed, several modernization and transformation initiatives are underway.

2018 Operating Budget Highlights

  • The 2018 Operating Budget for TESS is $1,096.898 million gross and $90.517 million net representing a decrease of 18.1% to the 2017 Approved Operating Budget. The Program exceeded the budget target due to the following:
    • OW benefits upload savings ($21.774 million),
    • Base expenditure reductions ($0.421 million),
    • Efficiency savings ($4.201 million).
  • New and enhanced funding ($0.421 million gross, $0 net) for the implementation of Transit Fare Equity Program Phase 1.
  • Staff complement will decrease by 26 positions from 2017 to 2018.
  • The 2018 Operating Budget provides funding to:
    • Deliver integrated employment services to 28,000 City residents.
    • Manage 84,000 cases and planning services for 200,000 individualized service plans.
    • Provide over $854 million financial assistance and employment benefits to eligible residents.

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

The 10-Year Capital Plan provides funding of $9.823 million, financed from reserves for the multi-year service improvement, Human Services Integration project, which will deliver an integrated Access and Intake function for the delivery of the core City income support programs: Ontario Works, child care fee subsidies, and housing subsidies currently delivered by TESS, Children’s Services, and Shelter, Support and Housing Administration. The project will simplify the service experience for residents accessing these services.

The 10-Year Capital Plan will decrease future year Operating Budgets for the three partnering divisions by a total of $2.391 million starting in 2022, primarily driven by operational efficiencies that will be realized with the completion of the project.

Where Does the Money Go?

The 2018 – 2027 Capital Budget and Plan provides funding for one capital project:

  • $9.823 million to begin the multi-year Human Services Integration Implementation project that will deliver an integrated Access and Intake function for the delivery of the core City income support programs

Where Does the Money Come From?

The 10-Year Capital Plan requires:

  • Capital financing of $3.274 million provided from each of the following three reserve funds (total of $9.823 million) :
    • Social Assistance Stabilization Reserve
    • Social Housing Federal Reserve
    • Child Care Expansion Reserve Fund

State of Good Repair Backlog

TESS’ 10-Year Capital Plan does not include any SOGR projects. TESS’s facilities SOGR capital funding requirements were previously transferred and consolidated within the Facilities, Real Estate, Environment & Energy (FREEE) Capital Budget and Plan.

Key Issues & Priority Actions

  • Currently, Child Care Fee Subsidy, Ontario Works, and Housing Subsidy programs are delivered in silos. Technology to support business processes has not kept pace with best practice, with common functions for access and intake delivered separately by each program. Consequently, clients are forced to navigate multiple service pathways to access services.
    • The 10-Year Capital Plan includes funding of $9.823 million for service improvement project, namely Human Services Integration Implementation, which will provide an integrated technology solution to create easy-to-navigate pathways to services, improve operational efficiency, and enhance accessibility to the City’s income support programs.

2018 Capital Budget Highlights

The 2018 Capital Budget for TESS of $2.313 million, excluding carry forward funding, will:

  • Begin the Human Services Integration Implementation project by delivering an integrated contact centre and client profile in a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system across the three divisions to create a single Human Services Account.

Toronto Employment and Social Services 2018 Budget Infographic
Toronto Employment & Social Services Infographic