Many persons with disabilities face higher costs of living, including the cost of travel to medical treatment. Accessing medical treatment is vital to ensure the health and wellness of Ontario Disability Support Program recipients. In recognition of this need, ODSP reimburses recipients for their costs of medical travel.
The program covers the full cost of travel for those who travel by public transit or taxi, or who are driven by an agency driver. But for those who must travel by car, whether because of where they live or because of the nature of their disabilities, ODSP only provides a mileage rate of 18 cents per kilometre. The mileage rate has stayed the same since 2000, even though the cost of gas has gone up by over 130 percent. In contrast, the federal government sets the medical travel rate at 55 cents per kilometre for tax purposes.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre and Aboriginal Legal Services worked together to represent a recipient who challenged the mileage rate. The case was heard by the Divisional Court on September 19.
On October 24, the Divisional Court granted our appeal. The Court was concerned that the mileage rate has not increased in 16 years, and ordered the Social Benefits Tribunal to re-hear the case on the basis that ODSP must cover the costs of both owning (e.g. insurance, registration fees) and operating (e.g. gas) a car.
To read the legal argument supporting the appeal, click here.
To read the Divisional Court’s decision, click here.
-First published May 2016, final update January 2017