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Downloading disability support to municipalities “a disaster” for vulnerable Ontarians

Today's recommendations by the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance to download the Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP) and integrate it into Ontario Works will leave thousands of vulnerable Ontarians without long-term income support and force people with disabilities into precarious, low-wage jobs says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that these recommendations are a disaster for people with disabilities and are a giant step backwards in improving services.

"When you look at these recommendations, it is plain that the only goal here is to take money out of the pockets of those who are the most vulnerable and can least afford it," Thomas said.

The Commission's recommendations include that ODSP services be individually controlled by municipalities who could set their own client asset limits, and puts an emphasis on forcing persons with disabilities into what will likely be minimum-wage, part-time jobs.

"What we are going to wind up with is a mishmash of services and rates across Ontario with no central oversight and a system that cares less about the individual and more about budgets," Thomas said. "It will also become another bureaucrat job-hiring program as each municipality puts in their own management structure. This is Local Health Integration Networks all over again."

Thomas is asking the government to set aside these recommendations and continue the current overhaul of ODSP that was designed to end delays and provide long-term seamless support to clients.

"The Ontario government must retain provincial control of a program that cares for our most at-risk people," Thomas said. "Duplicating services and bureaucracies across the province will only result in the loss of these services for those who desperately need them."

More information:
Roxanne Barnes, Chair, OPSEU Central Enforcement and Renewal Committee: 416-809-2791 Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931