Recipients appear set to receive last payment at the end of the month
The Ontario government’s emergency social assistance top-up for low-income workers and people with disabilities appears set to end on July 31.
Back in March, the Ontario government announced an emergency top-up for recipients of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program covering those who do not qualify for federal emergency benefits. The emergency assistance of an extra $100 per individual and $200 per family was initially a one-time payment, subsequently extended until July.
While the phone line to apply for the emergency assistance remains operational, Income Security Advocacy Centre lawyer Arash Ghiassi told PressProgress the government has not said if any extension is forthcoming.
“I don’t know how the government expects recipients to be able to cope with the pandemic without any additional support by August 1,” Ghiassi said.
“The majority of ODSP beneficiaries can’t work regularly so consequently they don’t have the income that’s required to qualify for CERB, so they’re at higher need than others.”
Ghiassi said Ford’s government has so far ignored calls from advocates to extend the emergency COVID-19 supports for low-income workers and people with disabilities.
“By not continuing it, the Ontario government is once again sending a message to folks with disabilities on ODSP that they are undeserving and their needs don’t matter,”ODSP Action Coalition Secretary Trevor Manson told PressProgress.
“The pandemic is not over yet,” Manson said, adding that ODSP recipients are effectively “expected to continue to absorb their costs on meagre monthly supports, forcing many to go without PPE and diminishing our ability to physically distance and self-isolate, which does nothing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
He noted single ODSP recipients without the emergency support receive a maximum of $1,169 per month. That’s significantly below full-time minimum wage earnings and the cost of living in many cities.
Single Ontario Works recipients receive even less support.
The government’s apparent move to end the emergency support comes after it cancelled a 1.5% increase to regular social assistance rates soon after forming government.