Ontario’s 2016 budget ushered in increases to many of the province’s social assistance programs. Effective fall 2016, participants in Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program, and the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities program will receive increases to their payments.
Increases to Ontario Works Payments
In October 2016, families in Ontario Works received a 1.5% rate increase to their benefits. Payments through this program vary based on several factors, but after the increase, a family receiving $200 per month will have its payment increased to $203. Similarly, if you receive $400 per month through this program, your new payment with the increase will be $406. Single adults without children receive a special increase, and Ontario Works plans to add $25 to their payments. For instance a single individual who receives $200 under the old rates will have an increase to $225.
Ontario Works provides money to help cover the cost of basic needs such as housing and food. The program uses complicated formulas to determine benefit levels, but it takes into account your housing costs, assets, income, and family size. If you have children, you can use Ontario Works to cover housing, child care, and medical costs for your children, but the Ontario Child Benefit should cover costs such as food and clothing. If you applied for the Ontario Child Benefit but haven’t received your first payment, Ontario Works may be able to help by offering a Transition Child Benefit. This benefit helps with interim expenses while you wait for the Ontario Child Benefit payment to arrive.
In addition to providing money for basic necessities, Ontario Works can also help you with the financial costs associated with having a guide dog. The program has employment resources to help participants look for work, and in many cases, you must agree to use its employment resources before you can be eligible for the financial support. Finally, if you are in an emergency situation, Ontario Works may also be able to help with expenses. Possible emergencies include leaving an abusive relationship, being evicted, or facing another unsafe situation.
Increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program
Individuals who receive payments through the Ontario Disability Support Program will see a 1.5% increase in their payments. This new rate came into effect in September 2016, and adds $1.50 for each $100 worth of support. For example, if you receive $50 from the Ontario Disability Support Program, you will get a 75 cent increase, but if you receive a $300 payment, you will receive a $4.50 increase.
The Ontario Disability Support Program
The Ontario Disability Support Program helps people with disabilities cover living expenses. Disabilities must be continuous or recurring mental or physical impairments that last one year or more, and they must be certified by a health care professional. If you qualify, benefits can help with housing costs, prescription drugs, vision care, and other expenses, and this program can also help you find a job or advance your current career.
You can start the application process for this program online, but ultimately, a social worker needs to personally review your case. The program takes into account your expenses for housing and compares them to your household income and assets. However, if you already participate in the Ontario Works program, you may not need to prove your financial need for the Ontario Disability Support Program. In this case, your eligibility for Ontario Works establishes your financial need, and you simply have to meet with a caseworker to determine the exact amount you can receive through this program.
Assistance for Children With Severe Disabilities
Ontario also plans to increase support for parents who receive payments through the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities program. As of fall 2016, these payments also increased by 1.5%. Similar to Ontario Works, the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities program helps moderate-income to low-income families cover basic living expenses, but in particular, it focuses on children under the age of 18 who live at home and have severe disabilities.
Support payments may be used for medical costs, to purchase equipment and supplies, or to provide extra relief to parents. As of the beginning of 2016, payments ranged from $25 to $455 per month, and with the increase, that range shifted to $25 to $462. Participants also receive a dental card offering basic coverage, a drug card with prescription drug coverage, and the cost of an assessment to see if their child needs an assistive device.