ODSP: A real issue that continues to be ignored

Last week, as part of the 2021 Fall Economic Statement, Premier Doug Ford announced an increase in the general minimum wage. If approved, the minimum wage would go from $14.35 to $15 an hour starting January 1, 2022.

When news first broke out, reactions were mixed. Some were excited and looking forward to the possibility of getting paid more per hour. Others weren’t so excited and even downright upset. Many feel that $15 simply isn’t enough to survive, especially for those affected by Covid in one way or another.

All that aside, though, Ontario still has a severe lack of affordable housing, which has led to an increase in people living on the streets, shelters, and run-down low-income housing complexes.

Ontario, much like Ottawa, is simply not doing enough to protect vulnerable members of our city and the province.

It’s certainly not because they can’t. It’s because they don’t want to, and therefore, continue to turn a blind eye to people with disabilities.

Here’s a good example.

On the day of Doug Ford’s announcement, the local media quickly got out on the street to ask people’s opinions. As I said, opinions were mixed, and rightfully so. We all have different situations, perspectives. We all have different stories in life.

However, I didn’t hear a single word in the media or from our Premier regarding ODSP.

For those not aware, ODSP stands for Ontario Disability Support Program. Recipients of ODSP receive a monthly cheque. The amount of the cheque is based on your needs, and I use the term very loosely.

I’m not going to state how much I receive, but I want to give you a real example of why ODSP isn’t enough.

According to Google, we could be receiving $1169 a month for basic needs and shelter.

Before I go on, let’s talk about needs.

The first thing is we all have needs, and needs have a way of changing, especially when it’s medical-related.

Now, when it comes to contacting ODSP regarding needs that may have changed, it’s damn near impossible to get a hold of your caseworker. If they end up calling you back, it’s often a struggle having to explain your needs and why they’ve changed. In that regard, I say that ODSP isn’t good with needs if there’s a change.

As far as shelter goes, I’ve heard many stories of people in poor living conditions. Such examples include bugs, landlords refusing to do repairs, and often deterioration of the house or apartment itself.

At this point, ODSP is really lacking, and I still haven’t even discussed money yet.

For $1169, sorry, IF you qualify to get $1169 a month, here’s where most, if not, of that $1169 goes towards:

Prescription Drugs (Not Covered By OHIP Or ODSP)
Medical Supplies (Those Not Covered)
Household Supplies
Unexpected Emergencies/Repairs/Health Issues
Social Life

This is just a general list, which can vary from person to person. For example, I have a feeding tube. The food that I order doesn’t come from grocery stores, and it’s covered. With that said, though, some of my medical supplies and some of my prescriptions aren’t covered at all.

I should also mention that I don’t have children.

For ODSP recipients with children, their ODSP income isn’t any easier.

If you’re a single parent with two children, you can receive $1661 a month.

If you’re a couple with one child, you can receive $1815 a month.

For a couple with two children, you can receive $1887 a month.

I admit that I’m terrible at math, but that doesn’t seem to add up to me.

My first thought is how are you supposed to look after yourself, your partner, AND one or two children while getting less than $2000 a month?

The short answer is that you can’t. Because of that, more and more people are turning to food banks and shelters. In some cases, that’s not even an option, which has led to people choosing to take their lives.

Sadly, these are stories that you rarely hear about in the news. If you’re on Social Media, though, there’s plenty of people talking about it. For those of you that use Twitter, I recommend following the hashtag #ODSPoverty.

It’s often not a happy or positive read, but it will give you some insight on what it’s like being dependant on ODSP and the many, many struggles we face each and every day.

I’ll leave you this week with a thought and a question.

Imagine getting paid $1169 (or less) a month. It’s up to you to buy food, pay bills, and whatever’s leftover has to last you for the rest of the month. While we’re at it, the holidays are coming up. Soon, you’ll be buying gifts for loved ones.

Now, with $1169 (or less), would you be able to pull that off and still have enough money to get through the month?

My guess is no.

Doug Ford continues to ignore the real problems.