Disability Movement, Economic Justice, Uncategorized

Can a Private Member’s Bill Change #ODSP?

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this bill.  This is news to me, and shake the hand of MPP Barrett.  I am a little suspicious that this is a conservative voter grab, and it is a very neoliberal approach to access to work, that still views people with disabilities as burdens that businesses should be tax deducted for hiring, but it`s a step in right direction, possibly.

Since when have they had social justice reporters for the Toronto Star?  I want that job!!!

March 31, 2010

Laurie Monsebraaten

Ontario’s welfare rules condemn disabled people to lives of poverty by squeezing their assets, scooping their child support payments and discouraging them from working, says a Conservative MPP who introduced a private member’s bill Wednesday to address the problem.

Under the bill proposed by MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand–Norfolk), about 230,000 people on Ontario’s disability support program (ODSP) would see their asset limits double to $12,000, while about 38,000 couples would be allowed to keep up to $20,000. Children could have assets of up to $500 each.

Single parents would no longer have child support payments deduced from their ODSP cheques.

Currently, anyone on welfare who gets a job has 50 cents on every dollar earned deducted from their cheques. But under Barrett’s proposed bill, a disabled person would be allowed to keep up to $700 a month in earnings or $1,000, if the person has a spouse.

To encourage employers to hire people on ODSP, non-refundable tax credits would be available based on up to $10,000 per person in wages paid. The tax credit would be available for a maximum of five employees per business and would amount to about $500 per employee, Barrett said.

“Most of us want to work and it’s a big disincentive if somebody takes half of what you earn away from you,” Barrett said in an interview. “By raising the asset limit, we’ll be helping them save more of what they earn.”

Private member’s bills rarely become law, but Barrett, a member of the Legislature’s sub-committee on finance and economic affairs, said compelling submissions from advocates for the disabled prompted him to act. His bill will be debated April 22.

Kyle Vose, a cancer survivor with HIV who is living on ODSP, welcomed the move.

“Normally one wouldn’t expect the Conservatives to be so open-minded on this. But they seem more liberal-minded than the Liberals these days,” he said, referring to last week’s budget which cancelled an allowance that helps people on ODSP pay extra food costs related to specific medical conditions.

“I just hope something comes of this,” Vose added.

Advocates for the disabled were also pleased. However, they had had hoped the changes would have been introduced by the government in last week’s budget. And they would like to see everyone on welfare benefit from the proposed changes and not just the disabled.

“We’ve been advocating for rule changes like these for many years,” said community legal worker Nancy Vander Plaats, co-chair of the ODSP Action Committee. “It’s good to see this coming before the Legislature.”

Barrett’s proposed changes to welfare assets and earnings rules are among a list of 13 interim measures suggested by the government’s social assistance advisory council. The council was set up by Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur last December to craft terms of reference for a promised review of Ontario’s welfare system, expected later this year.

But after last week’s budget, Meilleur said she could act only on welfare rules concerning gifts, shared accommodation, financial windfalls and suspensions. The council’s other proposed changes – including asset and earnings exemptions—would be too costly for a province facing a $21.3 billion deficit, she said.

As of February, more than 830,000 Ontarians relied on social assistance, including about 371,000 on ODSP and 460,000 Ontario Works.

2 thoughts on “Can a Private Member’s Bill Change #ODSP?”

  1. This is a tax grab of the worst kind as Meilluer puts the squeeze on the disabled people she is supposed to represent.

    Meilluer says we are too broke to deal with any of the recommendations regarding income issues around self employment (positive changes that would help ODSP recipients become successful and not need income support) –

    Yet she is willing to spend resources on interfering with the special diet, and dealing with gifts, shared accommodation, financial windfalls and suspensions in a claw back fashion -all things that work against the recipient or the province’s other ministries,’ (i.e. the special diet will cost health care allot just to take over and repeat the qualification of recipients….who should have been grandfathered – an even bigger waste of taxpayer’s money than the special diet itself).

    Meilluer is standing on a legally precarious position that would have her and the attorney general facing charges / and or lawsuits…more on this to come…she has already provided evidence against herself publicly that make it a slam-dunk case.

    WARNING 1/2 the Staff are in training TODAY – I called for many hours and couldn’t get no one, and while this can happen often to someone trying to deal with ODSP, today it was leaked to me why- it was due to the training that everyone is away on regarding the “New Modernization” of the policies and delivery model – this is the affectionate phrase they are calling it to make it sound pro or positive.

    Get ready – in fact start flooding the office with calls asking what this new training and this new “Modernization” and delivery model will mean — maybe we will get an answer before it is too late…..and why cannot they not just tell us ahead of time ? Is ODSP afraid recipients will get the upper hand? As a taxpayer, I would hope that dependant people become successful and therefore not need the systems support anymore.

    BTW – I have spent all afternoon trying to get a simple interpretation on the policy and directives (5.14 and 5.10 and have been given the run around – finally I got the policy Division for the interpreters 416-326-1880, I have got through to them before but did not get there number. When they give you a decision – the office cannot argue with it)

    The biggest problem I have with ODSP as an advocate who has studied their intention and absurd implementation of calculating income support for self employed recipients, is the “Jump First” and we will interpret the results later and tell you where you stand – this makes absolutely no business sense – how can a successful business survive if you take away their ability to budget or forecast?

    It would seem that Meilluer will accomplish a lot of turmoil and recipients will end up being more dependants and at an exorbitant cost to taxpayers.

    At least she will get her lifetime pension 🙂

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