Redefining eligibility of Social Assistance (SA) programs for vulnerable populations of Canada: A Data-driven Approach

Pakhale, Smita | $497,129

Ontario Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

COVID‑19 affected the most-vulnerable populations disproportionately, in Canada and globally. Though the government of Canada urgently rolled out social assistance (SA) programs to those who lost jobs and income because of the pandemic, many people were left out. Especially those, who already were most vulnerable, got even pushed further down during this pandemic, with no social assistance from the government. We are currently undertaking the COVID Impact project at the Bridge Engagement Center (the Bridge), a community-based research center in Ottawa, Canada. The COVID Impact project, aimed at learning the impact of pandemic on those who self-identify as homeless, at-risk for homelessness, low-income racialized minorities including Indigenous populations in Ottawa, Canada. Thus far, we have enrolled 400 people employing community based participatory action research approach and are now undertaking semi-structured interviews. We propose to build a data-driven model, based upon the data from the COVID Impact project, to create an inclusive social assistance program, leaving no one behind. This model will utilize the rich data from the 400 people enrolled at the Bridge, focusing on social determinants of health (SDH). We will finalize the SDH more relevant to the people with lived experience and co-create the model. Based on the criteria co-developed through this project, the provincial and federal governments will be able to redefine SA eligibility and reach the most vulnerable populations. This proposed project will also help guide programs for other low- and middle-income countries where COVID‑19 affected those living on the margins of the society. .

With funding from the Government of Canada

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