MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Zack Taylor

Geographical Areas

Toronto, Ontario


A “welfare wall” has long existed in Canada for households in receipt of social assistance when they transition into employment. The welfare wall phenomena occurs when the gain in overall income when employed is marginal compared to the overall income while in receipt of social assistance before a claw back of benefits occurs.A behavioral pattern identified and analyzed by previous studies is that when individuals experience a marginal gain in income when exiting social assistance that this may serve as a disincentive with exiting social assistance. In recent years both the Federal and Provincial governments have introduced numerous tax benefits and increases for individuals who are low to no income. The objective of his paper is twofold. Firstly, to determine the overall income gains OW clients in Toronto experience when they become employed to assess whether a “welfare wall” exists. Secondly, to determine whether the impacts of the welfare wall. have improved or worsened since 2019 as a result of government benefit and minimum wage policy changes. The study uses personas that have different demographical characteristics to complete simulations in order to determine increases in overall income when employed for each dollar of overall income lost when in receipt of social assistance. Findings concluded that government benefits generally lag the cost of living increases for some populations and that populations experience varying of overall income increases and benefit claw backs. A key unexpected finding is that housing subsidies have minimal impacts on overall income loss when employed. The study concludes by recommending new approaches and policy changes that are intended to simplify and improve the general understanding of benefit claw backs and the impact on overall income.