As we get ready to ring in the new year, the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is gearing up for some changes that will have a significant impact on the income levels of OSDP recipients. First announced in the 2014 Budget, the Ontario Government plans to eliminate three existing employment benefits for recipients of ODSP and create a new “Employment-Related Benefit” (ERB) program beginning April 1, 2015. The Ministry of Community and Social Services is currently doing consultations with ODSP recipients. These stakeholders are voicing their concern about the elimination of the existing employment benefits, but are especially concerned about the elimination of the Work-Related Benefit (WRB) which encourages people on ODSP to work and stay employed by paying $100 dollars a month for some of the costs associated with working (e.g. transit passes).
CMHA Ontario recognizes the difficulties that the loss of this benefit will mean for people with disabilities and their families. As poverty advocacy groups across Ontario have stated, this loss of income will seriously cut into already meagre incomes pushing more people with disabilities into poverty.
The new ERB, meanwhile, will focus on providing supports to people who are preparing to get into work. It is not intended to provide supports to people who are already working, unless those supports will help people “advance their career”.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC), the ODSP Action Coalition and Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) recently hosted a webinar on these proposed changes, their impact and ideas for action. To watch the webinar and for more information, go to Your Legal Rights website.