In light of the recent funding cuts to social assistance programs, which includes a 50 per cent cut to the planned increase to the Ontario Disability Support Program, Community Living Algoma Executive Director John Policicchio is disappointed by the decision. “It certainly was an unexpected decision and we hope this is not a sign of what we can continue to see happen within the developmental services sector,” said Policicchio. “When the 3.0% increase to ODSP was announced, there was a sense of hope and optimism. That is no longer the feeling amongst people with intellectual disabilities, their families and the developmental services sector.”
For the more than 73,000 Ontarians who have an intellectual or developmental disability and who rely on ODSP to pay for desperately needed living expenses, the cut means the people affected will be receiving $17.50 less than what was expected. The planned reduction will no doubt come with some difficult decisions for recipients, including food purchases, transportation and other basic needs.
It is a decision that is punitive and comes on the backs of the province’s most vulnerable citizens.
The provincial government also put an end to Ontario’s basic income pilot project, which provided payments to 4,000 low-income residents in communities including Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay. Despite not being one the communities included in the pilot project, Policicchio also expressed his disappointment that the project was not afforded an adequate opportunity to be proved effective.
“I think it’s deplorable to move to cut programs prior to having a supportive plan in place,” said Lucille Norman, President of Community Living Algoma’s Board of Directors. “Also, the basic income pilot project was terminated without providing any thought to how they are going to support people who were looking to make changes in their lives.”
According to a story published by CBC news, Minister of Children, Communities and Social Services Lisa MacLeod said the decision was an immediate measure as the province reviewed its social assistance programs with the aim of announcing reforms in 100 days.
On behalf of the individuals supported and their families, Community Living Algoma hopes government officials consider the significant impact these cuts will make when making its informed decision.
Something positive needs to come from this review. It is impossible for people to find reasonable and affordable housing at $489 per month and living in poverty. Within the next 100 days, we look forward to this government’s commitment to resourcing ODSP appropriately for people with an intellectual disability. –