The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides monthly supports to low-income Ontarians who meet the law’s definition of “a person with a disability.” In Ontario, “disability” is defined broadly, and includes people with both permanent and temporary medical conditions who are experiencing “substantial” impairments and restrictions.
ISAC is concerned that there are people who should meet the definition but who are wrongly being denied ODSP. ISAC has been working clinics in the Greater Toronto Area to monitor recent decisions about who meets the definition of a “person with a disability.”
Out of this work, we are co-counseling with Mississauga Community Legal Services on three appeals at the Divisional Court, arguing that the legal test applied by the Social Benefits Tribunal was too onerous. We are calling these three cases AB, CD and XX to ensure the anonymity of the people involved. We have posted the Notices of Appeal for each of these cases below and will post updates about the status of these cases as required.
One of the legal issues in these cases is the relevance of medical treatment. The Social Benefits Tribunal looked at the kinds of medical treatments that the appellants were receiving when making decisions about whether or not they met the definition of a “person with a disability”, instead of looking at the effects of their disabilities on their day-to-day lives.
There are many reasons why patients may not be accessing certain kinds of medical treatments, including long wait times or lack of specialists in their area, harsh side effects, and the effect of treatment on other disabilities. For some people, not pursuing treatment may itself be a symptom of their disability. Treatment, or lack of treatment, on its own should not be a basis for denying an ODSP application.
ODSP plays a critical role in ensuring that people with disabilities living in poverty can meet their most basic needs. It is crucially important to ensure that those who need the program can access it.
Read the anonymized Notices of Appeal below:
Case 1: CD v. DIRECTOR OF THE ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAMCD Notice Of Appeal – Sept 15, 2015 (PDF)
Case 2: XX v. DIRECTOR OF THE ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAMXX Notice Of Appeal – Oct 8, 2015 (PDF)
Case 3: AB v. DIRECTOR OF THE ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAMAB Anonymized Notice Of Appeal Final Oct 30
Update: These case have all now been settled. Following the filing of our appeals, the Ministry of Community and Social Services agreed to overturn the Tribunal’s decisions, to acknowledge that the Applicants qualified for benefits under the Act. This litigation was a continuing part of ISAC’s effort to ensure that those who should qualify for ODSP benefits are granted access to the program.
– Posted November 2015, final update April 7, 2017