The Ontario Public Service Employee Union (OPSEU) made a second submission to the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance, asking them to consider a number of additional recommendations on the basis that the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) are governed by two different acts. As such, they have different mandates and different expectations for recipients.
OPSEU’s primary recommendation urges government to keep the ODSP program within provincial jurisdiction and not download it to municipalities. The submission notes that the province is in the best position from a funding and knowledge perspective to continue funding and administering ODSP income support and its related benefits. Downloading the program will cause confusion and introduce another layer of bureaucracy that will make the system more difficult to understand and navigate.
Furthermore, municipalities are not structured to deliver a program such as ODSP. For example, municipal workers have no training in income support, disability issues, and other specialized services now provided by caseworkers with skill and experience in these areas. In addition, municipalities do not have program review officers within their organizational structure; as a result their ability to self-monitor the fairness and equity of their programs is minimal.
Spreading the ODSP program across municipalities will also create inequalities of service delivery and access and smaller hamlets will tend to get overlooked. Additionally, a downloaded system would be counter to the “Thriving Communities” framework that the Ministry of Community and Social Services developed when they implemented ODSP.
The Union’s submission recommends co-locating ODSP and OW offices, to improve transition between the two programs and decrease caseloads by increasing locations and staffing levels. The submission suggests adding back in employment and family supports (reconstructed with the latest revisions) to recover knowledge around specialized services.
In order to assist recipients who choose to work, the Ministry should develop a “good jobs” strategy, with long-term support for those who are unable to work. Providing working poor with the same non-income benefits, and providing transportation passes were also among the many recommendations provided in OPSEU’s submission.
See “Business Case for MCSS Administered ODSP” at www.opseu.or