TORONTO – The union representing workers at the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) calls on the provincially-appointed Commission for the Reform of Social Assistance (CRSA) to improve the program instead of downloading it to municipalities.
OPSEU has drafted an ODSP Business Case submission upon the request of the Commission's co-chair, Frances Lankin, in advance of a CRSA Options Paper to be released in December of 2011. Frances Lankin told the union at a meeting on October 12 that the Options Paper could include a recommendation to download ODSP onto municipalities.
OPSEU calls for the continued direct delivery of ODSP by the Ministry of Community and Social Services together with substantial improvements made to the program.
The people served by the ODSP are extremely vulnerable and often financially and socially marginalized,” said OPSEU President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The province must not sacrifice accountability for these important services as a cost-cutting measure.”
"People with disabilities have needs best served by the specialized and experienced staff who currently care for them," continued Smokey. "Workers have an established relationship with the people they serve, built on community inclusion and personal contact."
The union recommends several improvements to ODSP. Services can be made more accessible by increasing the number of offices and co-locating with Ontario Works. Give caseworkers greater discretionary capacity to increase their ability to help clients with more complex, individualized needs. ODSP can help people get employment in their own communities, when appropriate, by bringing back specialized professional services such Employment and Family Support workers. Improvements can be made to benefit structures including increasing asset limits, creation of a basic nutrition benefit, indexing of the shelter amounts to the averages established by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and provision of transportation passes.