Policy changes can increase employment for social assistance recipients
In conjunction with Houselink Community Homes and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, supportive housing advocates “the Dream Team” have produced a report that proposes four policy changes for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). If implemented, these changes could reduce the current 89 percent unemployment rate among ODSP recipients.
The report, “What stops us from working?” was written by John Stapleton and Stephanie Procyk. It explains the current ODSP rules that create barriers to obtaining and retaining employment, and illustrates the difficulties by using real-life stories of current recipients. The report also explains the barriers that prevent recipients from exiting ODSP. An analysis of each situation and the consequences of doing nothing are also included. The report concludes with four policy changes that would make work more financially attractive for recipients and decrease administrative burdens for the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
In broad strokes, the four recommendations are:
- Improve work incentives (to include the introduction of a time-limited exemption on the first $300 of earnings);
- Improve administration (the way earnings are recorded and reported);
- Integrate treatment of ODSP and non-ODSP earnings and income (to better support work) and;
- Make structural changes to the program to make it easier to exit (including enhancing employment supports to include training).