In keeping with their election commitment to index Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates to inflation, the Government of Ontario is raising ODSP payments by 6.5% to help recipients weather the rising cost of living. Recipients will see this increase reflected in their payments on July 31.
Formerly, the maximum amount a single person on ODSP could receive was $1,228 a month. This increase bumps that amount up by $80 a month to $1,308.
This is an important step forward, given that grocery inflation remains at 9.1% in Canada. By indexing ODSP benefits to inflation, the Government of Ontario is protecting ODSP benefits from eroding when the cost of living increases.
Yet despite being adjusted for inflation, ODSP rates still leave recipients living in deep poverty. These rates remain $752 a month short of bringing ODSP recipients to Toronto’s official poverty line.
The rate increase applies to basic needs and shelter maximums and board and lodge amounts, but not to specialized benefits. These include the Special Diet Allowance (for added dietary costs due to a medical condition), the Pregnancy/Breastfeeding Nutritional allowance (for dietary enhancements during pregnancy/breastfeeding), the Personal Needs Allowance (for living in a specialized care residence), or the Remote Communities Allowance (for living north of the 50th parallel where food is less affordable and/or accessible).
Inadequate ODSP rates mean recipients must rely on food banks to meet their basic needs. At Daily Bread, 44% of food bank clients report having a disability, and 22% rely on ODSP as their primary source of income.
Ontarians living with disabilities have been forced to live in legislated poverty long enough.
The Daily Bread Food Bank calls upon the government of Ontario to improve its social assistance system by doubling ODSP rates, raising OW rates to the poverty line and indexing them with inflation too. This will bring recipients above the poverty line and address the added cost of living with a disability.
To learn more about how vital financial support is for ODSP recipients, read our Click/Hear report published in response to the 5% ODSP rate increase last September.
Photo courtesy of Toronto Sun.