Posted by Brad at 10:11 PM
Friday, June 10, 2011
On May 29th 2011, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak officially released what he would like to call the changebook. The Ontario PC party claims they have a commitment to hardworking families and plan to provide them with relief and move the province of Ontario forward if they are elected on October 6th. But after reading the so called changebook I now believe that when it comes to those dependent on the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program nothing is really going to change
things might actually get worse. Sadly from my point of view when it comes to the Ontario PC’s it seems like the same old attitude remains towards those
who rely on income support from Ontario’s Disabilities Supports Program. When I read the Promoting Personal Accountability part of their changebook it
is evident that Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party don’t really have a clue about the true needs of those on ODSP.
The biggest problem with the PC Party is that they share the same view as the Ontario Liberals in believing that the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program should remain under the same umbrella as Ontario Works. These are two different programs created to assist people with very different needs and the biggest problem right now is the practice of applying the same rules to ODSP as the ones that currently govern Ontario Works.
For those who are unfamiliar with Ontario Works it is a social assistance program offered to those who are only supposed to be out of work temporarily. While the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program was created to supply income support to those living with disabilities. Sadly it seems like it doesn’t matter which party is elected they all believe it is ok to apply the same rules that govern Ontario Works to the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program.
Here in the province of Ontario over the last 10 years many Organizations along with Social Activists have been asking our elected Government officials to once and for all separate Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Supports Program making them completely separate Social programs that specifically address the needs of both parties. To separate
these programs would result in the elimination of many of the stupid rules that currently exists that end up hurting those who rely on income support from
One of the major flaws with this program is the way the current system is set up to punish people with disabilities who get married. Now I do believe
that it is the right thing to do to apply these rules concerning marriage to those recieving Ontario Works since it makes perfect sense that if their spouse is working then they should see their income support reduced. But I really believe that it is a major mistake to apply these rules to those on ODSP since it results in creating hardships they should never have to face.
Instead of reducing the income of those married and on ODSP our next Government needs to have a set rate for those who are married that never changes and is never reduced just like they do for those who are single.
Ask anyone living with a disability working or not and they will tell you at times it can be very expensive taking care of all of our financial needs.
And for any elected Government to reduce the income of people living with disabilities who are on ODSP simply because they get married needs to realize that it is doing much more harm than good.
Right now it seems like the Ontario Liberals and the PC Party along with many people in society still really
don’t understand what we are facing on a daily basis, financially many of us on ODSP are struggling just to make ends meet. And any tax breaks we may receive while greatly appreciated for most of us they simply don’t go far enough and I know some people reading this might say well if you’re struggling so much then go out and get a job. Well I did just that after seeing my income support drop so severely due to marriage I went and found a job.
I was actually one of the lucky ones who found a full-time job and eventually no longer needed income support from the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program and for four years was completely off of assistance. Was this a great thing? sure I was making very good money but when I ended up with a work related injury and after the WSIB blamed it on my disability and cut me off I eventually had to stop working then was quickly denyed any benefits from EI. And after some time I was back on ODSP and thats when I returned to the reality of how completely flawed the system truly is when it comes to the treatment of the income of those married to a non-disabled working spouse. And I know if a program like ODSP didn’t exist I would be much worse off and please understand I am very grateful for the tiny amount of income support I receive. I just believe if the Government of Ontario is going to offer income support to those of us living with disabilities the program should at least not be set up to financially punish those of us who get married.
In today’s society we can all agree that Social Assistance programs are very necessary to help those in need but if Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC’s want
to modernize the welfare system and make it fairer they need to start with removing all the stupid rules that govern Ontario Disabilities Supports Program.
In Tim Hudaks changebook he claims that he understands what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet but I don’t believe he knows how difficult it really
is for those of us married and on ODSP. He also goes on to say “the goal of welfare should be straightforward: to help our neediest rebuild their lives,
get out of the system, develop useful skills, and get a full-time job. We will help more people exit welfare and enter the working world.”
That’s perfectly fine for those temporarily out of work who are receiving assistance from Ontario Works but when it comes to people with disabilities we don’t need to rebuild our lives we didn’t lose our jobs we simply have disabilities. And some of us are actually in need of the income support we receive from ODSP and if Tim Hudak wants us exit the system and enter the work world he needs to wake up to reality.
Sure the Employment Supports Program is fully capable of helping us to develop useful skills but the facts are most of us will only be able to work or find part-time jobs. Unfortunately with a growing population and such a large amount of people out of work seeking employment any full-time jobs will soon become very difficult to find.
Sure a few of us with disabilities will be successful in finding full-time employment but a large majority of us won’t. When it comes to those of us with disabilities some of us do want to and can work but when it comes to those of us who can’t I hope Tim Hudak’s changebook doesn’t result in ODSP returning to the same old broken system that was in place when they were last in power.
Even though I believe the current system is still flawed you might be surprised to learn that Dalton McGuinty
and the Liberal Party have actually made a few improvements to the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program but they also haven’t done enough. It’s like any other Government run program it is still in need of some major changes and it’s time is due.
Now in Tim Hudak’s changebook he claims that his party will streamline Ontario’s welfare system by condensing the over 800 different rules that govern
each program creating a more effective system. He also goes onto say “As much as government needs to be accountable, individuals have the same responsibility. In some cases, it is up to the government to make those responsibilities very clear. These specific measures will ensure they are unmistakable.”
It worries me that this type of a statement might mean a streamlined system that will return to the way things were 8 years ago when the system was set up to force people off of ODSP by any means. I say if Tim Hudak wants to create a fairer system he needs to start by removing stupid rules that financially punish an individual on Ontario Disability Supports Program for getting married. He also needs to create a system that ends up helping those with disabilities who can work find employment but he also needs to take into consideration the needs of those who are unable to work by making sure they are receiving the amount of income support they deserve.
If we are going to vote for change on October 6th then we need to elect a Government that will no longer treat people
with disabilities the same way they do those temporarily out of work and in need of assistance from Ontario Works.
If you would like to find out more about the Ontario Government and their treatment of marriage under the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program you may
enjoy reading my post about the Ontario Government being hard on people with disabilities who get married
and to find out more about my employment story you can read My thoughts concerning Ontario’s Social Assistance Review.
To take a look at Tim Hudaks changebook visit http://www.ontariopc.com/news-releases/changebook/
Please understand in writing a post like this I am niether for or against Tim Hudak and the PC party. I just hope every political party in the province
of Ontario aims to corrects any and all flaws concerning the treatment of those who rely on the Ontario Disabilities Supports Program.