Human Services in Ontario

In Ontario, social services like income support, child care and early years services, and social housing are planned, managed and co-funded by municipal Service System Managers.

In the case of social housing, Ontario’s municipal governments fund the majority of costs as a result of the province transferring these responsibilities to municipal governments in 1998.

Within this unique landscape, Ontario’s 47 Service System Managers oversee systems planning and manage the delivery of local human services in a way that is integrated, people-focused and outcomes-driven.

This includes critical services that Ontarians rely on every day:

  • Employment and income supports

  • Housing services

  • Homelessness services and prevention

  • Child care, children’s and early years services

Social services management was downloaded to municipalities by the Province in 1998.

This led to the creation of Ontario’s 47 Service System Managers, who are Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs), or upper-tier (regional) and single-tier municipal governments across Ontario, and District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs) in areas where there are no regional municipalities in Ontario’s north.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada where municipal levels of government hold responsibility for social services.

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Local Service System Management provides better value and outcomes for Ontario’s communities

When services are planned, coordinated and delivered at the local level by experienced Service System Managers:


  • People remain at the centre, with a focus on the whole spectrum of a person’s needs

  • People can access a variety of services in one place, in the communities where they live

  • Services meet the different needs of Ontario’s unique communities (urban, rural or suburban, large or small, north or south) by leveraging Service System Managers’ in-depth knowledge of their communities

  • Services are planned, coordinated and delivered in a streamlined and integrated way, in coordination with local community supports

  • Services continuously improve through innovation, partnership and collaboration with local leaders in the health, education, justice, Indigenous, community development sectors and more

  • As accountable orders of government, municipalities work to ensure that taxpayer-funded services are managed with a focus on transparency, quality assurance and strong outcomes