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Health Spending Account – Changes to ODSP & OW

A Health Spending Account is an amount of money that you can spend on your health needs and it is limited. We do not know details of the Ontario government’s HSA plan. Key questions are the HSA limit? For what disabilities? How is the money distributed? Will it affect your eligibility for OW and ODSP?  Image: piles of drugs and paper money and coins. A stethoscope lies on top.


Will the HSA be sufficient for people with disabilities to access services they require to overcome social barriers that prevent them from participating in social life.

Thanks to the Income Security Advocacy CentreIncome Security Advocacy Centre Logo

On November 22, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services announced a number of proposed changes to the social assistance system in Ontario. Among these proposed changes are the creation of a “Health Spending Account”.

…Ministry plans on “redesigning ODSP to consolidate complex supplements and benefits into simplified financial support for people with severe disabilities”.

This could mean that the intention is to replace any or all current disability-related health benefits with the Health Spending Account. Currently, people on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) can access several disability-related health benefits like:


  • Special diet allowance
  • Diabetic supplies
  • Surgical supplies and dressings
  • Incontinence supplies
  • Medical transportation
  • Assistive devices co-payments
  • Guide dog benefit
  • Hearing aids
  • Batteries / repairs for mobility devices
  • Vision care

The Health Spending Account could “consolidate” any or all of these benefits into one set amount of money that people with disabilities would be able to spend on their health-related needs.


  • Amount of the benefit: Will a Health Spending Account give people enough money to pay for all of their health-related needs, especially if their costs are very high? …


  • Access and administration: …Will it work like the Ministry’s Developmental Services Passports where people have to pay for their needs in advance and then get reimbursed later, instead of getting the money to pay for them up front? …


  • Eligibility: Who will have access to the Health Spending Account? If the idea is to “consolidate complex supplements and benefits into simplified financial support for people with severe disabilities,” many people with disabilities may be excluded….

More information about the impact of changing the definition of disability is available here: //

  • Impact on eligibility for OW and ODSP: If the Special Diet Allowance is eliminated and “consolidated” into the Health Spending Account, fewer people will qualify for OW and ODSP in the future. This is because eligibility for the Special Diet Allowance is part of calculations that are done to see if people are eligible when they first apply for OW or ODSP.


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