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Government Announcement about Social Assistance
Key Point: Government did not increase/decrease ODSP and OW levels in response to extensive advocacy. Disability definitions will exclude many new applicants (existing recipients will maintain benefits). New applicants are more likely to be on OW with “wrap-around supports”. Lots of details to come.
New Disability Definition will exclude new applicants
ODSP currently uses an inclusive definition of disability that recognizes that people whose disabilities might not be “severe” may still face serious obstacles to employment and participation in the community and in daily life. … Federal standards might exclude “those with episodic disabilities or some mental health disabilities, forcing them to rely on the much lower benefit amounts that Ontario Works provides.”
Grand-parenting current recipients of ODSP is essential to ensure the lives of current recipients will not be disrupted. But Ontario cannot condemn people with disabilities who will require support in the future to the much lower benefit rates available from Ontario Works.
Health Spending Account?
The Minister noted the creation of a new Health Spending Account for people with disabilities that would give them the ability to select and pay for whichever health-related services they require. [No details on amounts—what about that new drug, tool, service provider, therapist?]
Wrap-Around Supports to Employment
Minister will provided services to move people into employment, including commitments to improve access to critically important help like mental health and addictions supports, childcare, housing, and life skills. These changes recognize that people on social assistance are not necessarily ‘job ready’ and may need a range of services to stabilize their lives before contemplating employment.
Do you need more service navigators or accessibility, food, travel, and other resources?
Do you need more employment agency workers or jobs?
Do you need a housing worker or housing?
Do you want a mental case manager for your OW claim or access to mental health supports on your own terms?]
Earnings Exemptions & Clawbacks
Monthly amounts that people on Ontario Works will be able to keep will increase from $200 to $300. However, clawback rates on earnings above that amount will increase from 50% to 75%.
For people on ODSP, the earnings exemption amount will increase from $200 / month to $6,000 / year. Clawback rate on earnings above $6000 will increase from 50% to 75%.