Metcalfe Foundation Report: The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario

Metcalfe Foundation Report: The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario

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    A couple of excerpts from the document:

    On page 22:

    The increase of ODSP expenditures is a complex issue. Of the many intricate factors causing the spike in ODSP, I believe the most significant one is the current labour market. It has become precarious with an increase in part-time, temporary, and contract work. Fewer people in stable salary and wage jobs means that employer-triggered disability income systems have fewer wage and salaried employees to support while they tighten eligibility requirements for their services. This is especially true for workers’ compensation.

    A significant number of individuals with disabilities are discovering that they are not eligible for employer-triggered disability income programs — private insurance, workers’ compensation, CPP-D, veterans’ disability, and EI sickness. And many who are eligible for employer-triggered disability income programs exhaust their benefits. Once their savings and assets are depleted, ODSP becomes the only possible income support program.

    On page 27:

    The perception remains that if you are active in the labour market you have systems at your disposal to support you in dealing with a disability. There is also an important message here for workers who do not have disabilities — particularly contract and part-time workers. The message is that whether or not you are an active member of the work force, if you do not have payroll deductions or pay into a private disability plan, you are not protected against the hazard of future disability and you risk looking to ODSP as the only option for an ongoing stable, but low, income.

    As noted earlier, one advantage of ODSP carrying a larger load is that social assistance permits a recipient to work and receive benefits. Unlike employer- triggered programs, there is no automatic cut-off when a recipient engages in paid employment. For this critical reason alone, there is a case to be made that other disability income systems should consider aligning themselves more closely with approaches taken by social assistance. In addition, social assistance benefits are statutory, not time limited (except once the recipient reaches age 65), and often come with good ancillary benefits such as medical transportation, disability-related supplies, and dental care. It is important to note that most other disability income programs do not provide similar benefits.

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