Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recognize that some people with disabilities will have higher food costs because their medical conditions require them to eat a special diet. Both programs provide a “special diet allowance” to people who have one or more specific medical conditions that would allow them to qualify.
The special diet allowance has been the target of numerous legal challenges for over a decade, because the allowance does not provide enough money to afford some of the diets and doesn’t provide any coverage for the special diets required for some medical conditions. This lack of adequate funding can pose a serious threat to the health of social assistance recipients.
In the past, ISAC, the Clinic Resource Office (CRO), and many community legal clinics worked together to bring hundreds of human rights cases to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Social Benefits Tribunal. As a result of those cases, the program was improved. For a more detailed summary of that litigation, click here.
ISAC has now joined with the CRO and Mississauga Community Legal Services to bring a new legal challenge on behalf of an ODSP recipient who has neuromyelitis optica (“NMO”). NMO is a condition similar to multiple sclerosis that can cause very serious malnutrition and weight loss. There is a special diet allowance for recipients with unintended weight loss caused by multiple sclerosis. But there is no similar coverage for NMO.
The human rights application was started in June 2018.