Roots of the Campaign
The Ontario Government proposed changes to the social assistance system in Ontario in 2018. This included changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), which is a program that offers financial assistance, benefits, and employment assistance to people with disabilities in financial need.
One of the proposed changes would have made the definition of disability used to determine eligibility for ODSP more like definitions used for federal government benefit programs. The government announced that this change will not apply to the majority of people currently receiving ODSP. They will be grandparented and will not have to meet the new definition of disability, but this change is very concerning for future ODSP applicants.
People with disabilities who qualify for ODSP under the current definition would not have qualified under the proposed definition. They would instead have had to rely on the Ontario Works program, which provides significantly less money and benefits and stricter work requirements. It was also unclear whether they would have access to critically important disability-related health benefits.
These proposed changes elicited great concern among people living with disabilities and amongst the social agencies and health providers who provide support. Through the work of Defend Disability, advocates were able to stop this change before it happened.