Friday, April 09, 2010

Ontario Tory MPP Barrett Proposes ODSP Improvements

ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) is an odorous program that essential consigns people with disabilities to a life of despairing poverty, penalizing them for having acquired injuries, chronic illnesses, and work-interfering conditions. If you're not a "productive" member of society, then we shall make your life a living hell with no way out. Got CPP Disability, we'll take that away from you. Got victim compensation, even if you're a child, we'll take that away from you. Got assets and savings that'll allow you to pay for your extra and expensive medical needs or (gasp) repairs to your home, we won't cover you. If you try to work, even a little bit, your pathetic allotment shall be cut by taking 50% of your earnings to spiral you down further. And now we think you should go back to your cheap junk food diet, no more food supplements so that you can eat healthily like your fellow productive members of society.

But in comes Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett with a bill to remedy partially this despicable situation, which bill shall be debated at Queen's Park on 22 April 2010.

MPP Barrett wants to
  1. Encourage further employment of ODSP recipients through tax credits;
  2. Allow recipients to keep more of their earnings; and
  3. Allow recipients to retain more assets.
He proposes
  1. Working recipients to retain first $700/month of working income ($1,000 if have a spouse);
  2. Raise allowed asset levels (to qualify for ODSP) from $5,000 to $12,000 for individuals, to $20,000 for those with a spouse on disability;
  3. Recipients to keep child support income.
  4. Employers to receive non-refundable tax credits up to $10,000 per
    person in wages paid, maximum of 5 employees per business, equalling about $500 per employee.
That raise in asset levels will probably disappear at the first required home repair or drain slowly to pay for increased hydro bills and for unreal food inflation costs or drop a lot to pay for some non-drug treatments as they become available or known to the person (although ODSP should cover medical expenses but I don't know much about which are allowed and which not).

To compare: for an individual to receive about the same incomefrom liquid capital assets as they would from ODSP, they'd need about $150,000 to $200,000 invested. But such a person would actually be behind as they would not have the medical coverage or TTC supplements. Also income would fluctuate with the economy. If, though, such a person put that kind of capital investment in a safe vehicle like GICs instead of stocks to eliminate most fluctuations, they would need a much larger amount than $200,000 invested from which to draw a comparable income. So $12,000 in assets may seem like a lot but it's not even close to providing a livable income, nor would even $50,000 to $100,000, which is what I think the fear is when determining allowable assets: that a person would use ODSP as gravy on their asset income and possible work income. But the thing about disability is that it often precludes the ability to work regularly or at all. So without some sort of extra income from assets and no possibility of work income, a person on the punitive ODSP can barely afford food, shelter, and clothing -- never mind treats like cable or good food or a movie out every few months or renting a DVD or a weekly latte or buying that coveted iPad -- and never will have that chance. Another reason to eliminate all these special programs and supplements and just go with a minimum guaranteed income already.

I'm happy to see MPP Barrett propose this kind of bill, it's a tiny step forward, but where does it leave those who can't work at all? In despair.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The one thing that I wish was changed between TTC/ODSP is getting a subway pass.
Every other Major city in Canada's public transit system has a 'discount fare for people who are disabled. I think public debate on this is pretty strong.

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

I agree, especially now that the TTC has priced itself out of the realm of low-income people.

blupheonix said...

Thank you so much for this informational article! I have sent this to my MP, also a Tory, in hopes he can get a dialogue going in the house next session.

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

blupheonix: You're welcome! It would be great if your MP could get a dialogue going and some real change in the next session.