The election campaign is over, but even the candidates that won are still looking to make good on election promises. In the midst of the 2022 provincial election campaign that returned Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives to office nearly two weeks ago, newly elected Guelph MPP made a promise to double the rates people receiving ODSP. Now Schreiner is insistently asking Ford to keep his promise.
“The issue of affordability is top of mind for many Ontarians right now, and people with disabilities are feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis the most intensely,” Schreiner said in a media statement. “People on ODSP shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their head. That is why I am calling on your government to immediately double ODSP rates and tie all future increases to inflation.”
Presently, the most a single person can receive through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is $1,169 per month, or $14,028 annually. According to the Government of Canada, the poverty line in 2020 was drawn at $25,900, which means that one-person households on ODSP are more than $10,000 short. Even the combined payments to a couple living on ODSP is not enough to cross the poverty line, and payments are clawed back should people start earning extra income.
“People with disabilities deserve better! We should not have to choose between a willingness to work and have money clawed back after the first $200 dollars,” said Anthony Frisina, from the Ontario Disability Coalition in a statement back in April. “It contradicts one’s ambitions and desires to work to earn a desirable income and uplift to a position of value. Having ODSP at $2,000.00 with claw backs after $800 dollars will also boost the economy over the to allow people with disabilities as respected citizens of Ontario.”
During the election, Schreiner and the Green Party were the first to promise a 100 per cent increase to ODSP rates as a way of combating poverty in Ontario. According to the Ontario Disability Coalition, the Green plan to double the rates would have the immediate effect of getting ODSP recipients above the poverty line, with only the NDP planning getting close to the line, but not all the way over.
The PC’s promised only a five per cent increase to ODSP rates during the campaign, which would only increase the monthly rate for a single person by less than $60 per month. CBC News asked the Premier’s office over the weekend about when people might see an increase to the rates, and a spokesperson said that the government will “have more to say over the coming days.”
For Schreiner, even a small increase is inadequate to address the problem, and it ends of up cost Ontarians more in the long run. “Poverty costs Ontario up to $33 billion a year, primarily due to increased health and justice system expenses,” he writes the letter. “With the budget still yet to be passed, this is your opportunity to address the severe financial challenges many Ontarians with disabilities are currently facing. It’s time to start treating people with disabilities with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
You can read Schreiner’s letter here.