Barrett's Private Member's Bill Lauded

Posted By Jeff Tribe Tillsonburg Indepependent
April 28, 2010

Toby Barrett's private member's bill received sincere praise from one of those who would be affected most.

You did a good job today, Mike Cerna said following the Haldimand-Norfolk MPP's presentation to the Ontario Disabilities Network Building Capacity and Enhancing Quality in Employment Services workshop Monday at the Gyulveszi Centre. Thank you.

Barrett was inspired in part by the story of Canadian Olympic gold medalist Alex Bilodeau and his elder brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy.

Life is not perfect and it can be downright difficult for many people, Barrett said.

Barrett said, sometimes, government legislation inadvertently encourages people to be more, rather than less dependent. During his extensive experience on the standing finance committee, he consistently heard presentations on how 73% of the 120,000 Ontarians with an intellectual disability were living below the poverty line.

In consultation with a chartered accountant and a lawyer, Barrett crafted a private member's bill (23), Enhancing the Ability of Income Support Recipients to be Financially Independent.

The bill is officially his, but Barrett emphasized he has merely summarized input he received while on committee, and credited members from all three parties for forwarding its development and progress.

The bill provides incentives for those on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to earn and keep more of their own money. A percentage of those on ODSP work at least part-time in an effort to enhance their quality of life based on the challenge of running a household on that level of funding.

Current regulations claw back 50% of wages earned by ODSP recipients, significantly reducing the incentive to work.

Barrett's private member's bill will allow ODSP recipients to retain the first $700 of additional monthly income, $1,000 if there was a spouse. It would also raise asset limits from the current $5,000 to $12,000 for individuals, or $20,000 if there is a spouse also on disability, and allow recipients to retain child support income, which is currently clawed back at a 100% rate. It would also feature tax incentives, for up to five individuals to encourage employers to take on more people with disabilities.

We think this would be more of an incentive to smaller employers, Barrett said.

There has been some debate Barrett said, based first on his proposal for child support payments, and on the potential fraud exists along with working the system.

Barrett said he assumes procedures are in place to prevent people, unfairly taking from other people who really need it.

Barrett said the ODSP community has been supportive of his efforts and he has received many e-mails suggesting these initiatives are long overdue.

This is something we have been trying to get changed for many, many years, said Community Living Tillsonburg CEO Marty Graf.

What you are proposing would go a long ways (to help).

Barrett introduced his bill at Queen's Park March 31, to all-party support and general applause.

That's quite heartening, he said. And probably the first time it's happened to me in 15 years.

The bill passed its second reading last on April 22, and again received support from all three parties. Having passed this hurdle, it is currently waiting a government call to place it before the finance committee for more detailed review.

That's where it lies now, said Barrett.

He is an opposition member of provincial parliament, and is clear Bill 23 could stay in a form of limbo up to, or past the next election. If the bill was called before committee by the government and came back to the legislature for a third and final reading, it could be passed into law.

And regulations will be written to allow it to do the job it's supposed to do, he said.

It is hard to predict how events will play out, Barrett said. But what has transpired is certainly a positive start.

Everybody's heart is in the right place, he said.

Article ID# 2554539

Barrett's private member's bill lauded Posted By Jeff Tribe Tillsonburg Indepepndent Posted 21 hours ago

Toby Barrett's private member's bill received sincere praise from one of those who would be affected most.

You did a good job today, Mike Cerna said following the Haldimand-Norfolk MPP's presentation to the Ontario Disabilities Network Building Capacity and Enhancing Quality in Employment Services workshop Monday at the Gyulveszi Centre. Thank you.

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Barrett was inspired in part by the story of Canadian Olympic gold medalist Alex Bilodeau and his elder brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy.

Life is not perfect and it can be downright difficult for many people, Barrett said.

Barrett said, sometimes, government legislation inadvertently encourages people to be more, rather than less dependent. During his extensive experience on the standing finance committee, he consistently heard presentations on how 73% of the 120,000 Ontarians with an intellectual disability were living below the poverty line.

In consultation with a chartered accountant and a lawyer, Barrett crafted a private member's bill (23), Enhancing the Ability of Income Support Recipients to be Financially Independent.

The bill is officially his, but Barrett emphasized he has merely summarized input he received while on committee, and credited members from all three parties for forwarding its development and progress.

The bill provides incentives for those on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to earn and keep more of their own money. A percentage of those on ODSP work at least part-time in an effort to enhance their quality of life based on the challenge of running a household on that level of funding.

Current regulations claw back 50% of wages earned by ODSP recipients, significantly reducing the incentive to work.

Barrett's private member's bill will allow ODSP recipients to retain the first $700 of additional monthly income, $1,000 if there was a spouse. It would also raise asset limits from the current $5,000 to $12,000 for individuals, or $20,000 if there is a spouse also on disability, and allow recipients to retain child support income, which is currently clawed back at a 100% rate. It would also feature tax incentives, for up to five individuals to encourage employers to take on more people with disabilities.

We think this would be more of an incentive to smaller employers, Barrett said.

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There has been some debate Barrett said, based first on his proposal for child support payments, and on the potential fraud exists along with working the system.

Barrett said he assumes procedures are in place to prevent people, unfairly taking from other people who really need it.

Barrett said the ODSP community has been supportive of his efforts and he has received many e-mails suggesting these initiatives are long overdue.

This is something we have been trying to get changed for many, many years, said Community Living Tillsonburg CEO Marty Graf.

What you are proposing would go a long ways (to help).

Barrett introduced his bill at Queen's Park March 31, to all-party support and general applause.

That's quite heartening, he said. And probably the first time it's happened to me in 15 years.

The bill passed its second reading last on April 22, and again received support from all three parties. Having passed this hurdle, it is currently waiting a government call to place it before the finance committee for more detailed review.

That's where it lies now, said Barrett.

He is an opposition member of provincial parliament, and is clear Bill 23 could stay in a form of limbo up to, or past the next election. If the bill was called before committee by the government and came back to the legislature for a third and final reading, it could be passed into law.

And regulations will be written to allow it to do the job it's supposed to do, he said.

It is hard to predict how events will play out, Barrett said. But what has transpired is certainly a positive start.

Everybody's heart is in the right place, he said.

Article ID# 2554539

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