ODSP Earnings & Employment Changes

February 2006



Changes effective April 1, 2006:


1.    Employment Requirements for non-disabled spouses New

        S.6 of Regulation 222/98

        Non-disabled spouses of ODSP recipients will now be subject to mandatory participation requirements, as a condition of continuing eligibility for benefits.

        This change makes both spouses and dependent adults who are part of an ODSP benefit unit subject to the same participation requirements.

        Participation will not be required where:

        The spouse is a caregiver for a family member "who requires ongoing physical assistance or supervision on ongoing basis as a result of disability, illness or old age" AND there is documentation from someone providing support services to the household that the level of caregiving makes participation impractical.

        The spouse is already participating in employment or employment related activities and it is unlikely that participation in OW will increase the chances of being employed

        The spouse is age 65 or older

        The spouse is experiencing exceptional circumstances which would excuse participation (i.e. is a CAS foster parent) or is ill, injured or disabled.

        Spouses to whom the participation requirement applies will be referred to Ontario Works to complete a Participation Agreement and participate in OW employment assistance activities.

        Income support for the benefit unit will be reduced if a spouse who is referred to OW refuses or fails to make reasonable efforts to participate in employment assistance activity or employment, or if the spouse resigns from employment without cause or is dismissed with cause

        Ministry documentation states that it is expected that a spouse referred to OW under this new provision will complete a participation agreement within 30 days of the referral and will begin employment activities shortly after. Ministry transitional information says that referrals will not start until after Implementation Agreements are negotiated between ODSP regional offices and local OW delivery agents. The deadline for having approved agreements in place is June 1, 2006. For that reason it looks as though referrals from ODSP may not start until after June 1, 2006.


2.    ODSP Employment Supports

        No regulatory changes needed

        Updated Employment Supports to be issued

        New Employment Supports Delivery and Funding guidelines & service provider information packages to be available in February 2006

        Mandatory Employment Information Session for ODSP recipients wanted to access services

        Applicants select a service provider

        Focus of service providers will be on job placement and retention

        Funding of service providers will be results-based


Changes effective November 1, 2006:


3.    Work Related Benefit New

        S44(1)6.2 Regulation 222/98

        New "Transportation Expense" of $100/month for each recipient, spouse and dependent adult not in full time school, who reports:

        Earnings from employment or a training program

        Positive income from self-employment

        Benefit is automatic and not pro-rated with level of income or related to actual costs

        Although not indicated in the new regulation, Ministry policy states that this new benefit is intended to cover all employment related expenses, not just transportation costs.

        Does not replace medical transportation costs which will still be available as a separate benefit (see s. 44(1)1iii.1 of regulation 222/98)

        Income that will trigger this benefit includes:


        Business income

        Farm income

        Training allowance

        Nominal remuneration



4.      Earnings Exemption Changed

        S. 38 of Regulation 222/98

        Basic flat rate exemption eliminated

        Earnings exemption increased from 25% to 50% of net earnings

        Net earnings = gross earnings minus mandatory payroll deductions (CPP, Tax, EI, mandatory pension plan, union dues)

        Combination of improved exemption rate and replacement of basic flat exemption with the $100 Transportation benefits may leave some single earner families with income in the $200 - $300 level worse off.

        Single recipients and families with earnings above or below the $200-$300 range should be better off under the new rules.

        The Ministry will be flagging families who will be adversely affected by the new rules for priority assistance in accessing other benefits and services, including employment supports.



Informal Child Care Deduction - Improved to match OW deduction

        S. 38 (2)(ii) of Regulation 222/98

        Maximum deduction from earned income increased from $390 to $600

        Deduction, up to the new maximum, applies to net employment earnings, training allowance or business income

        Brings ODSP in line with OW changes made in May 2005

        There is no change in the treatment of licensed child care where actual costs are already deducted from net earnings, unless they are reimbursed through some other program.

5.    Disability-related Work Expense Deduction Improved

        s. 38 1v of regulation 222/98

        Maximum deduction from earned income increased from $140 to $300

        Deduction applied to net employment earnings, training allowance or business income

        To qualify, expenses must be "necessary for employment and not paid through any other program"


6.    Employment Start-up Benefit (ESUB) - Increased

        44 (1)6 of Regulation 222/98

        Maximum start-up benefits available in any 12-month period increased from $253 to $500

        Available to any recipient, spouse or dependent adult not in full-time school for actual costs such as work wear, tools and equipment, grooming costs, licensing fees, drive-clean tests, etc.

        Eligible activities expanded to include any employment-related activity approved by the Director, in addition to commencement of employment

        Definition of employment-related activities includes, but is not limited to:

        Job search activities

        Job preparation activities

        Volunteer positions that will prepare a recipient for employment

        Amount of benefit matches OW Full-Time Employment Start Up Benefit, but unlike the OW benefit, ODSP recipients do not have to be engaged in full-time employment related activities to qualify for the ESUB

        Not available when a recipient leaves ODSP for employment (see Employment Transitional Benefit)

        Increased amount may not be issued retroactively for expenses incurred before November 1, 2006



7.      Upfront Child Care Benefit -

        S. 44(1)7 of regulation 222/98

        Maximum payment available to cover upfront informal child care expenses increased from $390 to $600 per child per month

        Can be provided in any 12-month period to cover commencement of any employment- related activity approved by the Director (See ESUB for approved activities), in addition to start of employment.

        Applies to start of work-related activities for a recipient or eligible members of the benefit unit.

        In the first month of training, recipients who have received the upfront child care benefit can also use the Child Care deduction

        Increased amount not available retroactively to cover child care costs incurred before November 1, 2006

8.    Employment Transition Benefit (ETB) New

        S. 44 (1) 6.1 of Regulation 222/98

        New benefit of $500 payable to recipients who leave ODSP for employment.

        Also payable to recipient, if the employment earnings of a spouse cause the benefit unit to leave ODSP.

        Do not have to be leaving ODSP for full time work to be eligible for this benefit. As long as the benefit unit's income includes income from employment, training or the operation of a business, the benefit is payable.

        Benefit is available to the benefit unit once in any 12-month period.

        Benefit is a flat rate and not related to actual costs incurred as a result of employment

        Payable even if ESUB has been provided within the past 12 months.


9.    Transitional Health Benefit (THB) New

        No regulations yet, but will issued under the authority of the Ministry and Community and Social Services Act

        Available to recipients who:

        Are ineligible for ODSP because their income exceeds or equals their budgetary requirements AND the income includes earnings from employment or a training program or income from self-employment.

        Cannot get benefit coverage through their employer.

        Are not eligible for Extended Health Benefits.

        Transitional Health Benefits include:

        Prescription drugs under the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan.

        Dental services in accordance with the Ministry Schedule of Dental Services.

        Vision care benefits, including routine eye examinations.

        Full time employment is not required to be eligible for this benefit.

        Recipients who exit ODSP with a combination of earnings and other income are eligible.

        Benefits continue until the recipient is covered by an employer health plan (recipient's plan or plan of family member) - there is no time limit to this benefit.

        Eligibility for the benefit must be re-established annually.

10.           Rapid Reinstatement Extended

        S. 19 of Regulation 222/98

        The 12-month limitation for grandparented FBA recipients who left for employment is removed.

        Recipients grandparented from FBA will qualify for rapid reinstatement, if financially eligible, regardless of how long they have been off ODSP, so long as they left ODSP because of income from employment, training or the operation of a business.

        Grandparented FBA recipients who leave ODSP for reasons other than employment will continue to be ineligible for rapid reinstatement

        All other ODSP recipients who have left ODSP will be eligible for rapid reinstatement at any time, so long as they meet financial and other eligibility requirements:

        Regardless of their reason for leaving ODSP

        Even if their medical eligibility review date has been passed

        Where an ODSP recipient who was subject to a medical review date is given rapid reinstatement, the review date after reinstatement will be either:

        The original review date, if it is not passed, or

        A new date to be set by the Director