DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
act Sheet



  • Number of individuals who submitted ODSP applications to the DAU in 2000/2001: 23,449

  • Percentage of applicants who were denied benefits by the Disability Adjudication Unit (1998 to 2001): 51%

  • Number of people who appealed a negative decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal in 2000/2001: 8,249

  • Disability-related appeals as a percentage of all appeals received by the Social Benefits Tribunal in 2000/2001: 68%

  • Percentage of disability-related appeal decisions that resulted in overturning the original decision to deny ODSP (2000/2001): 47%

  • Percentage of disability-related appeal decisions that resulted in overturning the original decision to deny ODSP where the appellant had representation (2000/2001): 58%


  • Number of people receiving ODSP assistance in December 2002: 273,652

  • ODSP benefits for a single person: $930/month

  • The annual income of a single person on ODSP is $7,500 below the poverty line.

  • ODSP benefits for a single parent with one child under 13: $1,424/month

  • ODSP benefits for a couple (one person disabled) with one child under 13: $1,582/month

  • The last time disability benefits were raised in Ontario : 1993 (2)

  • Increase in the cost of living since 1993: approximately 18% (3)

  • Average rents across Ontario in October 2002 and % rent increase since 1993: (4)

1 Bedroom
2 Bedroom
3+ Bedroom
$476 (+24%)
$627 (+28%)
$765 (+28%)
$952 (+28%)
$624 (+34%)
$767 (+30%)
$930 (+28%)
$1129 (+28%)
Thunder Bay
$398 (+14%)
$532 (+4%)
$657 (+4%)
$820 (+13%)
$729 (+43%)
$891 (+42%)
$1047 (+35%)
$1253 (+34%)
$481 (+34%)
$638 (+25%)
$769 (+22%)
$906 (+30%)

1. Unless otherwise noted, the figures presented are based on statistics provided by the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services.

National Council of Welfare (1997), Another Look at Welfare Reform, at p. 56.

Statistics Canada, 2003.

4. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2002.

All members and supporters of the ODSP Action Coalition are urged to attend all-candidates meetings in your community and to raise one or more of the following questions at those meetings. You can also ask these questions of candidates who canvass at your door, raise the issues in letters to the editor or radio talk shows, etc.

The one biggest concern for everyone on ODSP is the inadequate amount of ODSP rates. The Conservative government recognizes that the rates are not adequate because they promised a 5% raise. However, that promise was made in the throne speech but they are not going to actually give that raise until after the election if they win). The government does not need the legislature in session to raise the rates since that is done by regulation.

It is also important to stress that Ontario Works rates need to be raised as well, since so many people with disabilities are on OW for a long time while trying to access ODSP, and since those rates leave people in even deeper poverty than the ODSP rates.

Suggested questions:

  1. Will you commit to raising the amount of income support for ODSP recipients to reflect the cost of living since the last raise in 1993?

    If asking a Progressive Conservative candidate:
    Since your government recognized the need for an ODSP rate increase in the April Throne speech, why did they not enact the increase then but instead are making people with disabilities suffer for many more months until after the election?

  2. Will you increase Ontario Works rates to enable people who need assistance to pay their rent and feed their kids?

  3. Will you commit to removing barriers to access to the ODSP program, including those barriers caused by the complicated application process, and the attitudinal barriers at ODSP local offices?

  4. Will you remove the lifetime ban which applies to both OW and ODSP for those convicted of welfare fraud, as recommended by the Rogers Inquest?

Access to ODSP

  • The application process is too complicated.
  • There is no help for people applying to ODSP, even if their disability makes it impossible to follow through on the application process.
  • 50% of applications are denied at first.
  • Appeals, with the help of legal workers and additional doctors, are very often successful. Better decisions from the start would save taxpayers the cost of medical and legal aid services for the appeals.
  • People with disabilities have long delays and great stress before obtaining ODSP.


Will you ensure that the ODSP application process is revised to be fair, simple and supportive?

Benefit Levels

  • Disabled Ontarians have had no increase to ODSP (previously FBA) in more than 15 years.
  • The increase of 5% announced in the 2003 Throne Speech will not offset the increases to the cost of living over the past 15 years.
  • Rents in Ontario have increased by 21% in just 3 years (CMHC data, 2000-2002).
  • The shelter allowance for a single person receiving ODSP is $414, while the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Ottawa is $767.
  • People receiving income support from Ontario Works, including disabled people trying to access ODSP, live in extreme poverty and are even more likely to experience hunger and homelessness.


Will you commit to raising the amount of income support for both ODSP and OW recipients to reflect the cost of living?


Customer Service

  • The current ODSP "team approach" to service is impersonal and frustrating.
  • Computer-generated letters are harshly worded and difficult to understand, causing unnecessary stress for people and worsening their medical conditions.
  • People with disabilities report feeling that they receive disrespectful service from ODSP.


Will you commit to an overhaul of ODSP procedures and practices to ensure that Ontarians with disabilities receive the quality of service and respect they deserve?


Lifetime Ban


Will you remove the lifetime ban for those convicted of social assistance fraud?


Transportation Allowance

  • The ODSP policy for medical transportation is too narrow. No community support services (other than AA and NA) are on the list of services eligible services for the allowance.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Health recognizes that heath requires access to social support. The ODSP policy should reflect this same understanding.


Will you expand the ODSP transportation policy to enable people with disabilities to travel to the full range of services and programs that they need to improve and maintain their health?


For further questions, please contact

in Ottawa:
Ottawa ODSP Action Network
Lisa Jamieson at 613.737.7791 ext. 125 or lisaj@cmhaottawa.ca

in North Bay:
North Bay ODSP Action Coalition
Barbara Anello at 705.494.9078 or anello@thot.net


Source: Ottawa ODSP Action Network

Relevant Links

NOTE: External links open in a new browser window

Access to ODSP Campaign - Ontario Disability Support Program
Summary of Forum Reports


Denial by Design - Ontario Disability Support Program
© Income Security Advocacy Centre 2003

Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) Committee

Inquest into the Death of Kimberly Rogers

Recommendations of the Rogers Inquest Jury




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Page last updated August 1, 2003