People receiving support through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could find they no longer qualify under the Ford government’s recently announced changes.
Under questioning from the Official Opposition during question period on Monday, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa McLeod did little to quell the fears of those with short-term disabilities, including cancer, who stand to lose their benefits under narrower eligibility criteria.
NDP Community and Social Services Critic Lisa Gretzky pointed out what this change would mean for people.
“Dan is on ODSP because he has a learning disability, and he qualifies under the current rules," Gretzky said. “However, under the federal CPP-Disability threshold, he would not qualify as he can work minimal hours. Being able to work, and taking pride in the work he does, is exactly what makes him ineligible under the federal rules that the Ford government's minister says she wants to adopt. Why?”
After announcing last week that the new requirements would match the federal requirements, McLeod could not confirm Monday when the new criteria will even be announced, using her time instead to congratulate herself, despite the worry and anger coming from people living with disabilities, and their advocates.
In addition to those able to work a little, a federal definition excludes those who illnesses are temporary.
“I heard from many people who told me they have no choice but to go on ODSP because they have cancer or are too ill to work at the moment,” said Rima Berns-McGown, the NDP’s critic for poverty and homelessness, “They tell me that chemotherapy is exhausting and has side effects like severe fatigue that make it hard to work.”
“Can the minister please explain whether cancer patients and other sick Ontarians who are on Ontario Disability because they cannot work will experience a loss in financial support?”
The minister did not answer that question.