ODSP and OW are distinct programs with separate functions and recipients. Putting
these programs together would risk making both services less relevant1 to recipients,
whether they are on Ontario Works or ODSP. ODSP is meant to be a long term
entitlement, while Welfare is considered more of a stop gap measure. As such people
with disabilities aren’t subjected to the humiliation, coercion and punitive nature of
Ontario Works. The coupling of both programs would create image transfer issues,
where OW recipients could be seen as disabled, while Individuals with disabilities
could incur negative stereotypes of people on Welfare. i.e. lazy, abusers of the system, a
burden etc. This could worsen employer perceptions of people who have disabilities
and people who are on social assistance. People with disabilities would not only be
stereotyped as being unable to work, but have stigma typically associated with welfare
recipients, such as burden, or cheat, or lazy. Given work capacity issues, the lack of
efficacy of employment programs, and labour market deficiencies it seems both unfair
and ineffective to address unemployment issues with coercive participation agreements.
Few people with intellectual disabilities raise ‘significant amounts of income’, but
have made important contributions to competitive employment, volunteering, and self
employment that should be continued to be supported regardless of the persons work
assessment or placement in the proposed ‘severe disability’ program.
1. Reasonable Expectations and Necessary Supports to Employment
Should people with disabilities have Participation agreements?
Participation agreements and rehabilitation agreements are harmful and coercive.
There is no justification for trying to coerce a person with a disability to work, when
there are 1) significant work capacity issues 2) significant labour market issues, 3)
when many workplace barriers are yet to be addressed and 4) when employment
services are ineffectual. Further, people with disabilities income should be an
entitlement, not subjects to threats about returning to work. Participation agreements
don’t get at the source of the problem. If the intent to have more people with disabilities
working, then removing disincentives to work, removing workplace barriers, improving
employment supports, and developing an effective labour market strategy would be
better strategies to increase employment rates of people with disabilities.
Relevance means that the content addresses a major or significant need of the people to
whom the content is addressed” (Social Role Valorization Monograph, Wolf
Wolfensburger, 1998, 111).
Should a work capacity tool be created?
If there is a severe disability program, where people are determined to be unlikely to
have significant income, those people should still have the supports to acquire and
maintain competitive employment regardless of the results of an assessment.
What is missing From Chapter 1.
More effective job development and increased levels of job coaching (i.e more than 13
weeks) would help more people with intellectual disabilities secure and maintain
competitive employment. Support and incentives for self employment and volunteering
would increase people’s access to and participation in the job market. Disincentives to
work more such as claw backs should be reduced.
2. Appropriate Benefit Structure
Should health benefits be provided to all eligible low income Ontarians? If so how the
cost should be covered?
Distributing health benefits to the working poor should not mean a decrease in the
access of benefits to people with disabilities.
How Should Income supplements for low income people with disabilities be designed and
delivered? Should such supplements be provided outside the social assistance system?
If a severe disability program is created then those recipients should see their income
assistance, benefits, and asset limitations increased from current ODSP rates.
Recipients should have access to competitive employment, self employment and
3. Dealing with the Complexity of Benefits
Should some special benefits be rolled into a standard rate? If so, which ones?
Rolling Special Benefits into one standard rate would likely make people with higher
needs insufficiently supported.
4. Making the System Easier To Understand
Should the social assistance system move from a surveillance approach toward an audit
based system of verification and monitoring?
An audit would be a disaster for people who have few supports in the community and
would have difficulty tracking receipts for years. An audit system might actually create
a system that is more punitive to people who have cognitive impairments and little
support in the community. However for those with enough skills and support, an audit
system would have its benefits. The audit system however, would put the most
vulnerable people on ODSP at risk. More effort, especially in a severe disability
program, should be put into developing rules which are supportive, as opposed to
punitive, coercive and threatening.
Should asset limits be changed? If so How
If asset limit levels are increased for people on Ontario Works, Asset limit levels should
also increase for people with disabilities.
5. Viable for a long time.
The Commission proposes delivering ODSP and OW in three different ways.
1) Keeping OW and ODSP Income Supports as separate programs but moving
ODSP employment Supports to municipalities and First Nations
2) Combining OW and ODSP into one program delivered by municipalities and Fist
3) Combine the two programs into one, but have municipalities and First Nations
deliver human services and have the province send out the cheques.
Integrating ODSP and Ontario Works is likely to decrease the efficacy of those
services. Employment Service Providers have often pointed out that when people with
intellectual disabilities have their employment services with people with other
disabilities, or employment barriers the quality of service for those with intellectual
disabilities decreases. Furthermore the move towards a municipal administration is
likely to reduce resources for services. ODSP and Ontario Works should remain