Defining disability for social assistance in Ontario: Options for moving forward
Author: Bonnie Mah, Hannah Aldridge
Topic: Financial inclusion, Tax filing and benefits
Publisher: Maytree
Location: Canada, Ontario
Format: Report
Content Type: Research
Publication Date: June 26, 2020

Narrowing the definition of disability used by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) could have serious implications. Improving the program’s assessment process would yield better results for applicants, Ontario's social safety net, and the government.

This report explores the role of ODSP, the risks of narrowing the definition of disability, models of disability assessment from other jurisdictions, and alternative ways that the government could reform the program. Most importantly, the paper recommends that the Ministry focus on improving ODSP’s initial application process. A simplified assessment system would save time and money for applicants, medical professionals, legal clinics, adjudicators, and the Social Benefits Tribunal. These savings should be reinvested back into social assistance.

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