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MEDIA RELEASE – More work needed on reforming social assistance

Toronto, ON – Community Living Ontario commends the Government of Ontario on taking positive steps that will enable Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients to keep more of their earnings, and the organization looks forward to working with the government on a plan that assists those who can’t.

Earlier today, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Lisa MacLeod, provided details of how her government intends to reform social assistance in the province. Of particular interest to Community Living Ontario was the introduction of a $6,000 annual earning exemption for ODSP recipients. Although the change includes a 75 per cent clawback for every dollar earned above that amount, it is far better than the current 50 per cent reduction in income support that a person receives after earning $200 a month. Minister MacLeod did not state when the change to the earning exemption will come into effect.

“Raising the amount that a person on ODSP can earn to $6,000 per year, and calculating exemptions on an annual basis is exactly what we have been calling for,” said Chris Beesley, Community Living Ontario’s Chief Executive Officer.

“This measure will ensure a more dependable level of benefit for people whose employment opportunities and income vary throughout the year. Reviewing financial eligibility annually rather than once a month will also no doubt be welcomed news to many people.”

Community Living Ontario was keen to learn how Minister MacLeod’s government intended to support ODSP recipients who cannot work, and the organization was disappointed today’s announcement did not include details on this or eliminating limits on cash gifts and other assets, and additional dollars towards ODSP income support.

On July 31, 2018, the new government reduced the 3 per cent ODSP payment increase announced by the previous Liberal government to 1.5 per cent, effective on September 1, 2018. The maximum payment for a single person receiving ODSP income support is $14,028 per year, which puts them $6,648 below the poverty line.

“The government’s pledge to lift people out of poverty and to create opportunities for them will certainly benefit those on ODSP who are working or who aspire to,” added Beesley, “but for others who can’t, choosing between paying their rent every month and what they can afford to eat is a reality many people will continue to face every day. They need a plan sooner rather than later, and we are ready, willing and able to assist the government in that endeavour.”

Community Living Ontario looks forward to working with Minister MacLeod and her ministry on strategies that further support a person’s independence, promotes their dignity, and improves their opportunities to participate effectively in the community.

Bill 60, also known as the Ministry of Community and Social Services Amendment Act that was introduced in the Legislature yesterday, is one such strategy. The proposed legislation would establish a Social Assistance Research Commission consisting of nine people, including ODSP and Ontario Works recipients, that would study and recommend social assistance rates and policy changes in an annual report to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

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Community Living Ontario is a family-based association assisting people who have an intellectual disability and their families to lead the way in advancing inclusion in their own lives and in their communities. As a province-wide confederation, rooted in a strong network of individuals, families, friends, member organizations and community partners, it will be guided by, adhere to and strive to achieve its goal and vision in all its actions. We are a progressive leader in the Developmental Services Sector representing more than 12,000 individuals, families, over 100 member organizations, and community partners.

For additional information, please contact:

Ron Laroche
Director of Communications, Marketing and Fund Development
Community Living Ontario
416-707-4907 | rlaroche@communitylivingontario.ca

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