62% of food bank clients in Hamilton rely on government assistance as their primary source of income. What this tells us is that the benefits they receive are inadequate and not nearly enough to meet even their most basic needs like food. In November 2018, the provincial government announced a number of reforms to Ontario’s social assistance programs, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program. Some of these changes were cause for concern including the exclusion of individuals living with episodic disabilities under the definition of what constitutes a disability. Examples of episodic disabilities include diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy (view the complete list here).
The new, more restrictive definition of disability under ODSP will take supports away from people with the greatest need. This would push more people onto Ontario Works which is not designed for people who are unable to work due to disability or illness. Reforms limiting access to ODSP will push very poor people with disabilities into even deeper poverty, leading to increased hunger, worse health outcomes and possible homelessness. This will put further strain on our healthcare system, social services and other government services, costing more over the long term.
With thousands of people on ODSP already accessing food banks each month in Hamilton, we call upon the Ontario government to keep the current ODSP definition of disability and not move towards a more restrictive definition that could harm people who are already struggling with poverty and ill-health.
How you can help:
Call, email, or visit your MPP and ask them if they support stopping these concerning changes to Ontario Works and ODSP.
Read more about the issue and share why it’s important to you on social media. Use the hashtags #HungerAwarenessMonth and #FeedChange. Thank you for helping us spread this message widely among your networks.