Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario welcomed the recent announcement by the Ministry of Community and Social Services to defer implementation of the Employment Related Benefit until further consultation with recipients and stakeholders. The Employment Related Benefit was designed to replace seven existing Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) employment benefits with a new simplified benefit. As part of the ODSP Action Coalition, CMHA Ontario voiced concern about the impact eliminating existing employment benefits would have on people with disabilities and their families. The ODSP Action Coalition, a province-wide coalition of community disability agencies, provincial organizations, anti-poverty groups, legal clinics and people with disabilities on ODSP, has been working to bring attention to this issue for many months.
The loss of the Work-Related Benefit (WRB) was of particular concern, as it encourages people on ODSP to work and stay employed by paying $100 dollars a month for essentials such as transportation. Eliminating this benefit would seriously cut into already meagre incomes, pushing more people with disabilities into poverty.
“As half of current ODSP recipients have a mental health diagnosis, CMHA Ontario recognizes the difficulties that the loss of the Work-Related benefit will mean for people with disabilities and their families,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario. “We’re delighted that the Ontario government has heard our concerns and is taking the time needed for broader consultation before implementing a new policy.”
The newly-announced deferral means that all seven employment benefits currently available to people on ODSP and OW will continue to be available. Deferring implementation will allow the government to consider employment benefits in the broader context of social assistance reform.
For more information on the announcement, visit the Ministry of Community and Social Services website.