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Looking for Information on what is happening around increases to your ODSP Benefits? You are at the right place. This page is dedicated to helping spread the word on new information about ODSP.



May 25, 2006

4 month payback limit removed

ODSP REMOVES RECTRACTIVE TIME LIMIT
ON APPLICATION STARTING POINT

Many of you know that there have been many complaints made to the Ombudsman about the length of time it takes to decide initial applications for disability, and the resultant loss of money for people because of the rule that said that ODSP would only pay retroactive benefits 4 months prior to the DAU decision. Well, likely due to the publicity around the Ombudsman complaints, the government has ended this rule. Now, people going on the ODSP from OW will get retroactive benefits back to the month after their complete application was received by the Disability Adjudication Unit.

Earlier we reported that more staff have been hired by the DAU, so they will be able to handle more applications. They state that by the end of this year, they should be deciding most cases within four months of receiving the applicaiton.

Nice to have some good news to report occasionally! This also shows that complaining to the Ombudsman can be a very effective strategy in certain situations. Look for information on how to complain to the Ombudsman on our website: www.odspaction.ca

Nancy

To read the Policy as release by ODSP:
http://www.odspaction.ca/download/ODSP_Policy_retroactive_grant.doc


News flash: ODSP eliminates four-month limit on initial retroactive grants!

ODSP Transition Directive 2006-03, "O. Reg. 231/06: Regulation to Amend O. Reg. 222/98 made under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 with respect to the Four Month Limit on Retroactive Initial ODSP Eligibility" (25 May 2006) announces an amendment to ODSPR222 which will revoke the four month limit on initial retroactive ODSP grants. The amending regulation is not yet available but, according to the Directive, effective date of eligibility will be determined based on:

* the date an application is complete (for direct applicants to ODSP); or
* the first day of the month following the month the application is complete (for applicants in receipt of OW).

Note that the amendments also provide that appeals re date of eligibility will be limited to decisions that put the date of eligibility after the above dates.

Apparently the director will have some discretion to depart from the above dates, in extraordinary circumstances.

The amendments are deemed to have taken effect on 25 May 2006.

Barbara Casson (CRO)


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"Losing the Waiting Game"

The Ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature and is independent of both the political process and government administration. Generally an office of last resort, the Ombudsman investigates and resolves complaints about provincial governmental organizations and recommends corrective action. Services are free and confidential. Other languages can be arranged. For further information, call 416-586-3300, TTY 1-866-411-4211 or visit our website: www.ombudsman.on.ca

Backgrounder on: Ombudsman investigation into unreasonable delay at the Ministry of Community and Social Services' Disability Adjudication Unit

The Ontario Disability Support Program

- In June 1997, the then Minister of Community and Social Services introduced the Social Assistance Reform Act, 1997. The Act created a separate income support program for people with disabilities under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997. The Ontario Disability Support Program provides income support, including health and other benefits for people with disabilities, and their families, who are in financial need. Individuals with disabilities may apply for Ontario Disability Support Program benefits through either a local Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program office. Once financial eligibility is determined, the individual is required to file medical and other information. The Ontario Disability Support Program's Disability Adjudication Unit is responsible for deciding whether or not an applicant meets the definition of a "person with a disability" set out in the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 such that they will be eligible for financial benefits.

The Ombudsman's Investigation

- From March 1, 2005 - February 28, 2006, the Ombudsman received 71 complaints from individuals who had waited for up to ten months to receive a decision on their applications to the Ontario Disability Support Program and who, as a consequence of this delay, lost out on benefits due to a regulation limiting their retroactive entitlement to four months.

- On March 1, 2006, the Ombudsman notified the Ministry that the Special Ombudsman Response Team would be investigating the issue of whether there were unreasonable delays at the Ontario Disability Support Program's Disability Adjudication Unit, and whether these delays are leading to individuals with disabilities being deprived of benefits they would otherwise be entitled to.

The Ombudsman's Findings and Recommendations

- On May 9, 2006, the Ombudsman provided the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Deputy Minister with his Preliminary Report. The Ombudsman found that thousands of individuals with disabilities had been deprived of benefits because of Ministry delays and the impact of a regulation limiting retroactive entitlement to benefits to 4 months. Based on the Ministry's statistics, the Ombudsman estimated that the total amount of benefits these persons would have otherwise been entitled to if it were not for Ministry delay was in the range of $6 million and potentially higher.

- The Ombudsman made 7 recommendations to address his findings, including repealing the 4 month regulated limit on retroactive benefits and paying restitution for those who had been denied retroactive benefits as a result of Ministry delays.

- On May 17, 2006, the Minister and Deputy Minister responded to the Ombudsman's Preliminary Report. The Ministry committed to take action on 5 of the Ombudsman's 7 recommendations and to report back to the Ombudsman within six months time. However, the Ministry made no commitment with respect to making restitution for benefits lost because of the Ministry's delay, stating only that it would consider the Ombudsman's recommendations. The Ombudsman did not find this to be an adequate or appropriate response.

- On May 19, 2006, the Ombudsman issued his Final Report to the Ministry. On May 25, 2006, the Minister responded to the Ombudsman's Final Report, confirming that the 4 month limit on retroactive benefits was repealed but still making no firm commitment whether restitution would be paid to those unjustly deprived of benefits because of the Ministry's delay.

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Class Action Against ODSP

PRESS RELEASE PRESS CONFERENCE

PROVINCE SUED FOR CHEATING
SEVERELY DISABLED PEOPLE

A landmark class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Ontario Government claiming millions of dollars wrongfully withheld by the Ministry of Community and Social Services from severely disabled applicants for benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The lawsuit is on behalf of thousands of poor disabled Ontarians who have applied for ODSP benefits since 1997. ODSP was established as a program that provides income to needy persons with severe disabilities.

Sarah Shartal, a lawyer who acts for persons with severe disabilities, says: "The Province has created a legal quagmire that cheats very poor disabled people out of benefits that they are entitled to by law." Shartal wonders why it takes the Province a whole year to make a decision that private disability insurers make within two weeks. "The delays are killing people," says Shartal.

The lawsuit alleges that the Ontario Government has deliberately set up an overly complicated administrative system that delays the processing of ODSP applications and unjustly enriches itself at the expense of ODSP applicants. ODSP applicants have suffered loss of benefits and interest as a result of lengthy delays in processing their applications. The Province has profited by withholding retroactive benefits and the accumulation of interest it earns on the money wrongfully withheld from the Plaintiffs. A media conference at which class-action members and lawyers on record will be in attendance will be held on Monday.

DATE: Monday, April 10, 2006 at 11:00 a.m.
PLACE: Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre 1499 Queen Street West, Toronto, M6R 1A3.
For information call Roach Schwartz and Associates 416-657-1465.


Pro Bono Students Canada call for Changes (February 2006)

David Lyons, Michael Kennedy, Ronan Lougheed, Michael Hassell, Dave Vaillancourt and Morgan Crockett, Pro Bono Students Canada at the University of Western Ontario, are working on an ODSP project called "Systemic Change in the ODSP Delivery Model". This report was prepared for the Community University Research Alliance.

A short initial draft of the paper that outlines what it is about is available online at: http://home.cogeco.ca/~mmdilts/ODSP Systemic Change Feb 19-1.htm


May, 2006
The Final Report is available in HTML format online at:
http://home.cogeco.ca/~mmdilts/Pathway_to_Progress_Final_Report.htm

View or Download a copy of the Full Report in Abode Acrobat format:
http://www.abacussafety.com/mhd//Pathway_to_Progress_Final_Report.pdf
Note: Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

Please feel free to circulate the above links to the Draft and Final Reports.


March 3, 2005
I hope by now everyone has received their new rates. Chalk one up for Ms. Pupatello as she actually made the target date for the rate increase.


January 14, 2005
Another copy of the Petition in support of Bill 30 that was presented to MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand / Norfolk) for presentation to the legislature still seems to be sitting in his hand - typical I guess. This is only an example of how much work there is to be done to bring awareness of the urgency of providing adaquite increases in benefits for ODSP recipients. REMEMBER - It is still very important that this petition is circulated, signed and submitted to your local MPP for presentation. The more petitions presented the better! Bill 30 has still not been set for second reading so pitch in and let's get this bill progressing.

I pray that by now everyone has received the two interim payments and we all are waiting with baited breath to see if their promised 'Great Improvement' increase actually gets implemented on February's cheque.
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December 15, 2004
The Ontario government has released an announcement concerning OW and ODSP. Some of the changes include:
  • allowing RESP's

  • no longer putting liens on homes owned by OW recipients

  • getting rid of the Intake Screening Units

  • letting OW recipients with high drug costs who go to work, keep a drug card (sounds something like the ODSP Extended health benefits )

  • ending the $100 deemed sponsorship income deduction for sponsored immigrants, but collecting social assistance payments from sponsors by taking their federal income tax refunds

  • increasing the amount of help from family and friends that ODSP recipients are allowed to keep, from $4000 per year to $5000 (nothing about the amount they are allowed to earn)
One of the negative features was that Community Start Up will now only be allowed once very 24 months instead of 12 months (aside from exceptional cases like family violence, flood or fire. The full government announcement can be found at:
http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/CFCS/en/newsRoom/newsReleases/041215.htm


October 15, 2004
The first copy of the Petition in support of Bill 30 was presented to MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand / Norfolk) today for presentation to the legislature at his earliest opportunity.


September 16, 2004
I received two emails today that are worth sharing.

The first was inquiring about my statement that not everyone will receive the increase on their shelter allowance. To read the email and my explanation go to:
Why I may not receive an increase to my shelter allowance.

The second email was about making contact with our local MPP. To read the email exerpt and my suggestions please go to:
Making contact with my local MPP.

I have been asked to gather names of ODSP recipients across Ontario who are willing to be matched up with other recipients in their area to work together as a group to promote ODSP awareness and become support groups. For more information please visit:
ODSP Recipient Group Information.


August 21, 2004
A copy of the petition for Bill 30 has been posted at Petition Online


July 6, 2004
For those wanting more information on how the Liberal Government is handling the Social Assistance increase announced in their 2004 budget I have created a new information page.
Click here for Update on Increase


June 30, 2004
Our Ontario Legislature has adjourned until September 27, 2004 (or Tuesday, October 12, 2004 if you refer to the meeting called on June 29, 2004) without addressing many issues that were pending including Bill 30. It is not certain at this time if the current Bill 30 as presented by Ms. Martel will die a natural death or be carried over when the legislature reconvenes in the fall. This web site is going to operate on the premise that Bill 30 will be still on the docket in the fall but I am prepared to revamp or rework the site and petition to have a new bill introduced to the house if necessary.

This is YOUR government, YOUR province, YOUR life!!!
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YOUR help is needed if we are to see a bill passed in Ontario that will assist in alieving the financial plight of those Ontarions who have become disabled! I have posted a separate page that lists ways we can improve the odds on getting legislation on the books that will force the government to tie the disability assistance to the cost of living increases.

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me." - Pastor Martin Niemoller, 1945, Germany

"A time comes when silence is betrayal. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters." - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Please visit this page for suggestions on how you can help.
How can you Help -Click Here

Our promised 3% increase is still in the works - what is new. On June 30th I sent an email to the Hon. Sandra Pupatello inquiring of the timeline for implementing the increase announced in the budget. I received a reply from the Hon. Sandra Pupatello on July 5, 2004. Letter from Hon. Sandra Pupatello


May 24, 2004
Well the budget is out and with all of the Liberal fan fair, standing ovations, congratulations, ego boosting and partisan smoke screening they want us to believe that they have done a HUGH good deed to those Ontarians forced to eek out an existence on ODSP and Social Assistance (Ontario Works ... which doesn't) by giving them the first assistance boost in 11 years of a whopping whole 3%!!!

Keep in mind that the Cost of Living Increase determined and by our trusty governments for this year alone was 2.9%! This means that a single person receiving $930.00 per month could receive an increase of a whole $27.90 more a month while their Cost of Living will increase at least $27.00 per month if they don't smoke, drink, drive, need physio care, need eye care or need the assistance of a Chiropractor.

A single person under the new rate could receive from ODSP a maximum of $531.48 per month for their basic necessities plus a maximum of $426.42 per month shelter allowance for a total of $957.90 per month or $11,494.80 per year. This amount is still $1,160 to $6,160 below the Statistics Canada annual poverty line for a single person, depending on where the individual lives in the province.

* The last time disability benefits were previously raised in Ontario : 1993
    National Council of Welfare (1997), Another Look at Welfare Reform, at p. 56.

* Increase in the cost of living since 1993: approximately 18%
    Statistics Canada, 2003.

* Average rents across Ontario in October 2002 and % rent increase since 1993:
    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2002.
City
Bachelor
1 Bedroom
2 Bedroom
3+ Bedroom
Hamilton
$476 (+24%)
$627 (+28%)
$765 (+28%)
$952 (+28%)
Ottawa
$624 (+34%)
$767 (+30%)
$930 (+28%)
$1129 (+28%)
Thunder Bay
$398 (+14%)
$532 (+4%)
$657 (+4%)
$820 (+13%)
Toronto
$729 (+43%)
$891 (+42%)
$1047 (+35%)
$1253 (+34%)
Windsor
$481 (+34%)
$638 (+25%)
$769 (+22%)
$906 (+30%)

Ms. Martel (Nickel Belt) introduced Bill 30 2003, An Act to amend the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997 to require annual cost-of-living adjustments to income support payments, that received First Reading on December 16, 2003. Since then it has been sitting dormant waiting to receive second reading.

Read the ODSP Act, 1997 - Ontario REGULATION 222/98

Read the ODSP Act, 1997 - S.O. 1997, CHAPTER 25 - Schedule B

In response to an email sent to Ms. Martel about the current status of Bill 30 I received the following;
   With the Liberal majority in the House, they set the schedule to bring forth Bills 30 for debate. The Liberal government should do this as soon as possible with Bill 30 but it is the decision of the government to bring it forward for further debate or else bring in their own legislation in this regard.
   Letters to the Minister, Sandra Pupatello, could put pressure on the government to proceed with changes to the current ODSP legislation and ensure these are announced in the up-coming Provincial Budget on May 18th.
 
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   I attach for your information a copy of Hansard for April 29, 2004 when Howard Hampton spoke in the House about the need for immediate changes to ODSP and social assistance. I am sure you will find this of interest.
Sincerely,
Shelley Martel
MPP - Nickel Belt

    Send an Email to Minister Madeleine Meilleur NOW!   


Interesting Note: My wife received a chain email that had over 200 'forwarded from' email addresses.
I have only received 27 requests to be added to the Petition in the past THREE months! You don't have to be a ODSP recipient to support Bill 30, just a concerned Ontarion. My target is to present over 20,000 signatures in support of Bill 30 to the legislature when it reconvenes in the fall of 2004.
 

This web page is posted and maintained by:
Malcolm Dilts
Welland, Ontario
email: mmdilts@cogeco.ca

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This page last updated on June 4, 2006