The Special Diet Allowance is available to Ontario Works and ODSP recipients who have medical conditions which require a therapeutic diet. Qualifying medical conditions are listed on a Schedule in the ODSP Regulations, with corresponding monthly amounts. The Allowance is meant to cover additional dietary costs that result from a person’s disability and in this way represents the human rights accommodation of a person’s disability-related needs.
However the Regulations specifically exclude “residents of a supported group living residence” (under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008) from receiving the allowance. This means that people who live in group homes for adults with developmental disabilities are excluded from accessing the Special Diet Allowance.
ISAC is co-counselling with Legal Assistance of Windsor (LAW) on a human rights challenge to this exclusion at the Social Benefits Tribunal. LAW’s clients are ODSP recipients who live in group homes for adults with developmental disabilities and have conditions that require special diets and that are listed on the Schedule.
The basis of the human rights challenge is that the denial of the Special Diet Allowance to recipients who live in group homes discriminates on the basis of their disability. The nature of their disability requires them to reside in a group home rather than in the private rental market. If they lived in rental housing they would receive the Allowance. But because they live in a group home they are specifically excluded.
The challenges are pending at the Tribunal.
The written submission on the human rights challenge filed in one of the cases is below.JD V Director Of ODSP