Toronto Budget Check (version 1): Toronto Employment & Social Services 2016

Updated: September 27, 2017. Estimated direct Transfers to Persons has been integrated into the statements (revenues and expenses), to get a clearer picture of the net cost of operating this service.

This is the second in a series of experimental division statement layouts (see here for the first — PFR — and for some more commentary on the choices made for this layout). These statement layouts separate current operating revenues and expenses from inter-divisional charges and capital account transactions, to provide a clearer view of what’s going on.

The idea is to use this kind of layout for variance reports when detailed data becomes available from the City (we’ve asked for it) and eventually for cost centre reports.

Source: Henrik Bechmann

Here is a summary of the services of the Toronto Employment & Social Services (TESS) division.

Source: Henrik Bechmann

Note that the estimated Transfers to Persons amount was taken as the total of Other Expenditures in the Financial Supports section. This is just a placeholder. The 2017 analyst notes (page 19) have much higher figures, but I couldn’t find a rationalization for these higher figures (they resulted in negative expenses in the Financial Supports section) that made sense. So for now this should be taken as a pro forma attempt to consider the benefits of disaggregating these type of flow-through transfers to get a better picture of underlying operating costs.

One thing that caught my eye is that the the Ontario Works (OW) caseload was reduced by 6000 for the 2017 budget year, as the result of shortfall in ‘demand’ in 2016.

From the 2016 final budget variance report, page 8:

From the 2017 TESS Analyst Notes, page 10:

Also, the TESS analyst notes (page 19) specify $817.9M paid to OW recipients, but this does not seem to fit into the Financial Supports part of the statement above. It would be good to identify Transfers to Persons as a separate line item, and this a really a non-operational expense.

Please give me feedback about any of this! mail at

Henrik Bechmann founded the budgetpedia project in 2015, and is currently the project lead (see The opinions expressed here are his own.

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