Editor’s Note: On July 31, 2018, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services announced it was hitting “pause” on social assistance program commitments by the previous government. In the interim, the government stated it would provide current Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients with an across-the-board 1.5 per cent increase in support rates to help them with a higher cost of living. As a part of this reform, the government is winding down Ontario’s basic income research project. The government has set a 100-day deadline to develop a “sustainable” social assistance program. No further details have been made available yet.
Individuals enrolled in Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) may be interested to know of upcoming changes to the two programs that may impact them.
Many of these changes to OW and ODSP in 2018 are similar to recommendations from the Income Security Advocacy Centre, the ODSP Action Coalition and other organizations in a November 2017 report called, Income Security: A Roadmap for Change.
Read the full list of changes. Some highlights include:
Increases to OW and ODSP base rates – Sept / Oct 2018
A three percent increase to base rates (basic needs and shelter) is scheduled to start as of the ODSP cheque received at the end of September, and the OW cheque received at the beginning of October. A three percent increase means an additional $23 per month for a single person OW and an additional $35 per month for a single person on ODSP.
Increases to rates for other allowances – Sept / Oct 2018
A two percent increase is to be applied to various “miscellaneous allowances,” such as:
- the Advanced Age Allowance
- the Special Boarder Allowance
- the Guide Dog Benefit
- the Personal Needs Allowance
- Temporary Care Assistance
- the Remote Communities Allowance
- First Nation emergency hostel services per diems
- amounts for dependants with dependants
Change to definition of “Spouse” – Nov 2018
After many years of advocacy, the Ministry of Community and Social Services has finally agreed to change the definition of “spouse” in OW and ODSP to align with the Family Law Act.
Board and Lodge rate category elimination – Sept / Oct 2018
The Board and Lodge rate category will be eliminated and people who are currently receiving board and lodge or lodging rates will receive the full Basic Needs and Shelter amounts.
Access to Special Diet Allowance – Nov 2018
As of November 1, 2018, people on ODSP who live in intensive support and supported group living residences that are funded by Developmental Services in the Ministry of Community and Social Services will be able to access the Special Diet Allowance, as long as they meet the regular eligibility requirements.