Several of the changes to the province’s social assistance programs – Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works – announced in the April Budget are now in effect. These build on other initiatives over the past year, including a simpler, less stressful medical review process.
For the growing numbers of injured workers forced onto welfare, any enhancement is welcome news. Among the major changes announced:
- Awards for non-economic loss (NEL) under certain sections of the workers’ compensation acts are now fully exempt for ODSP recipients; for Ontario Works recipients, the exemption limit is raised to $50,000 (in effect Aug. 1)
- Increased exemptions on allowable gifts, income and assets, so “people don’t have to be destitute before qualifying for support”:
- Income exemption for cash gifts increases to $10,000 for both programs (in effect Sep. 1)
- Asset limits will increase to $40,000 for single individuals, $50,000 for couples in the ODSP program; to $10,000 for single individuals, $15,000 for couples in Ontario Works
- Increased monthly deduction (from $300 to $1000) for disability-related employment expenses (in effect Sep. 1)
- Batteries and repairs for mobility devices will be added under the Transitional Health Benefit
- Ontario. Ministry of Community and Social Services. 2017 Sep. 1. Backgrounder: Improving Ontario’s Social Assistance Programs. Toronto: MCSS.
- _______2017 Aug. 11. News: Ontario Helping Social Assistance Recipients Get Ahead: Province Changing Compensation Award Exemption Rules. Toronto: MCSS.
- Monsebraaten, Laurie. 2017 Apr. 27. “Welfare Recipients See Boost in Asset Limits in Ontario Budget.” Toronto Star