As Prime Minister Doug Ford prepares to unveil his new cabinet, there are renewed calls for the government to raise Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) rates higher than promised during the election campaign.
Currently, a single person with a disability at ODSP receives $1,169 per month, which is supposed to cover food, rent, and all necessities. That is about 30 percent below the poverty line.
Darrell MacDonald, an ODSP recipient, tells CityNews that the only way he has survived is through the use of food banks.
During the last election campaignThe Green Party and the NDP promised to double the tariffs, while the Liberals said they would raise it by 20 percent.
In April, Ford said he had been there for the past four years to support people who couldn’t work.
“For the people who for whatever reason are unable to work, mentally or physically, I will always be there for them,” he said. “The best way to help someone who can work is to give them a job.”
Initially, the Conservatives had no intention of raising ODSP rates, but promised a five percent increase, which amounts to an additional $58 per month. The payment includes just under $500 per month for rent. Ford also promised to introduce legislation that would link annual increases to inflation.
When asked by CityNews when the five percent increase would take effect, a spokesman for the prime minister said information would be in the amending budget, but did not provide an additional timeline.
RELATED: ODSP recipients urge Ford government to increase payments, say it’s impossible to live on
“It’s just not possible for people on ODSP to live and find shelter for $497 a month that the government provides,” said Chris Glover, NDP MPP for Spadina Fort York. “As a result, 45 percent of the people in this province who are homeless are on ODSP.”
Taking inflation into account – and even the promised increase – people with disabilities on ODSP receive less today than when Mike Harris was Prime Minister 20 years ago.
In 1995, Harris cut ODSP payments by 21 percent. In 1998, a person with a disability could receive up to $930 per month. Twenty-four years later, in 2020, that amount was only $239.
Just before the 2016 election, Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne pledged to raise the ODSP by three percent a year for three consecutive years. The Ford government canceled those increases. Instead, the Ontario Conservatives increased payments once by 1.5 percent.
Several ODSP recipients have previously told CityNews that they are considering applying for medical assistance in the event of death (MAID) because it becomes too hard to live.
Rita De Biasi has been PSW for 33 years, but is unable to work due to her disability.
“All I have to tell Doug Ford is we need to raise rates, people are suffering.”
Merrillee Fullerton was the Minister for Children, Community and Social Services who oversaw ODSP and it is speculated she will remain in that role when the new cabinet is officially sworn in Friday morning.