The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services hates disabled people

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CAUTION: This post was written after receiving some very bad… incredibly incorrect information from an ODSP worker who was either very new, or very, very drunk. It turns out things weren’t nearly as bad as he made it out to be, but he still managed to waste a year of my life. I’ll update this post soon… today is August 5, 2013.

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I can’t move in with my girlfriend, and our son, because the Ontario Government hates people, especially when one of them is disabled.

I contacted my Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) case worker last week to find out, once and for all, what ODSP could do to help support my son. He told me the disability support system is basically rigged against disabled parents.

I called them once before, just a few months after my son was born, and the answer I received from ODSP seemed to come from an insane person. I told the “expert” my girlfriend and I lived in the same building, but in separate apartments. After that he kept repeating “I’ve never heard of such a thing” over and over again.

Eventually I had to hang up on him. This region’s primary industry is creating single mothers, and ODSP guy had never heard of two parents living separately.

I decided to call again because recently the ODSP system changed in two ways, one: two people on ODSP can now live together without their cheques being cut in half, and; two: there are no more specialists at ODSP, so when I call for information the only person I’ll ever have to deal with is my case worker.

I like my case worker — in that he never calls me, so when I found out about the changes, I called to find out if it extended to disabled people living with significant others. Unfortunately, it turns out the system is insane, not just some of the people working in it or using it.

He told me ODSP will give me a $100 bump on my monthly cheque for being a daddy… on condition I have custody of my son.

So, with or without his mother, my son must live with me full time in order for me to afford an extra two weeks of diapers. But legal custody also means the monthly baby bonus would be split in two. If it was just me — if my girlfriend were to lose her mind and give up her parental rights, then I’d get the whole bonus.

Regardless of how much of the baby bonus I would receive, whether it’s half or the full amount, it would then be deducted from my ODSP cheque.

But the bigger problem, if my girlfriend and I were to ever live together, would be ODSP would then deduct half of her net monthly income from my ODSP cheque.

That’s right… according to the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, if I move in with my girlfriend and our son, my ODSP monthly income would drop from $1050 to, roughly, whatever I could raise panhandling.

It would actually be cheaper, or the amount taken out of my cheque would be less, if I were to continue renting my apartment and move in with my girlfriend, then to give it up and tell ODSP I’m moving in with her and our son.

It’s bizarre. ODSP will allow me, someone who has been labelled “permanently disabled” to go out and work at a part time job, as long as my monthly income was less than $500 (give or take). Anything over that and money is deducted from my ODSP income. That kind of makes sense, but the services designed specifically to keep me alive, or support my infant son, are only minimally there.

The ODSP system acknowledges we have a problem beyond our disability, but then it hands us a coupon for a carton of milk to fix our acid burn.

ODSP gives me $50 a month because, as a diabetic, I’m supposed to eat a special, and expensive, diet. So… without the diet, I’m basically just a big sack of nearly dead, but getting there. So… to fix this, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services gives me $50. Which would pay for, roughly, ten days of my doctor-mandated, and prescribed, diet.

“Ah,” says ODSP, “you’ve got diabetes. Well here’s $50 for some apples, see you at the dialysis clinic in five years.”

You have to figure, if they added up the costs of the insulin, dialysis, a kidney transplant, the heart treatments, the amputations, the fake legs, the lost productivity… just add it all up, divide the total cost in two, then just handed us that pile of cash so we could afford a proper diet, and maybe a nice new car, it’d save them 50% of whatever they spend now.

My girlfriend and I want to live together as a family… “ah,” says ODSP, “well, I know you’re both way under the poverty line right now, so all you have to do to live together is cut your income in half.”

It really is bizarre. Someone actually had to decide that if a disabled person moves in with their child and girlfriend, half of their ODSP income should be docked as a penalty. And that, if a disabled person has a kid, they’re not eligible for any support from ODSP, even if the child spends an equal amount of their time in the disabled person’s home.

Depending on whether or not there’s justice in the universe, I assume whoever made those decisions has either died from syphilis, or went on to form their second majority provincial government.

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...thanks.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, CSG, Diabetes, Disability, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health, ODSP, Poverty and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services hates disabled people

  1. H says:

    i am so sorry for how you’re being treated.. but please know that in Michigan, it’s not much different. lots of prayers and well wishes being sent your way..as well as your girlfriends and your sons.
    H

  2. Reading this makes me bonkers but I totally empathize as a) I’m already bonkers with this shit and b) did you even know I was in “the system.” Of course you did nin-JAH!

    I’m not there yet. I’m doing a box step waltz, where the stoopid guvmunt is still somehow convinced it’s a tango set to conga music. What that translates to, is a transition from OW to help me hobble along just to get, to the Golden Medal of ODSP.

    Fucking hell, eh?

    All my paperwork has been sent in so it’s hurry up and wait, now. It’s all a bitch (or a bastard if you wish), to deal with it. I know nothing, of course, about your situation of having children and that. I’m strictly about illness–mental/physical. However, we do have something in common: Special Diet.

    Be thorough for the new changes with the form that’s available now (or should have been at the end of March.) I just called my worker yesterday to see if they have them. I said be thorough and just see what’s what, as I noticed something about me that has changed. As a matter of fact, I’m going to send you an email now about it.

    Hugs,
    Purple nin-JAH

  3. Melanie says:

    I hear ya!!!!! A few years back I was forced to go to social services for help. In order to receive any money, I had to prove that I had done my best to obtain child support from the father of my girls. At first they said I would have to sue him for child support before they could spare a dime or two. Then, when they realized that he was on ODSP, I was informed that there was nothing I could do to get money from him so they would help. As a single mother with full custody of two girls I received @$900.00/month TOTAL. He was getting over a thousand dollars a month to take care of only himself, with none of that coming to help our girls.
    The system is FUCKED up, pardon my language, but it’s the only word that works!

    • Carla Oakley says:

      Melanie, you are also getting child tax benefit, right?! That’s something your childrens father is not getting, so you may be receiving about a hundred dollars less in ODSP funding, you are receiving a few hundred more dollars from a different department of the government. To not include this information is misleading people to believe that the Min of Comm and Soc Services is being unfair to single parents.

      I currently receive CPP Disability and with this benefit there is no drug or dental coverage. So, I started on ODSP with drug and dental coverage and they made me apply to the Federal government for CPP since I had worked and paid into the CPP Program. When CPP approved my claim, ODSP stopped paying therefore drug and dental coverage stopped.

      • Gabriel... says:

        Carla, the Ministry is being / has always been unfair to single mothers. Whether or not Melanie included a detailed list of what she received from the Ministry, or other Ministry’s, in her comment is irrelevant. The father of Melanie’s children used the system, in an underhanded manner, to cheat Melanie and his children out of the money he owed her, and continues to owe her, thanks to court settlements she won and agreements that he signed. He is using the ODSP system to prevent Melanie from collecting what is owed her, while he works off the books to make a decent living.

        When I was accepted into the ODSP program the process meant I had to later apply to CPP, after which CPP has paid roughly half of my monthly salary, with ODSP picking up the other half plus the benefits package. I could be wrong, but it’s my understanding you could apply to Ontario Works to find out if their benefit package could apply to you.

  4. Em says:

    Wow, that’s seriously messed up. I’m sorry that they’re giving you so much trouble. I know a few people on ODSP and have heard that they pull a lot of crap, but I’ve never known anyone in your situation. I’m glad you made this post.

  5. Pingback: My son moves in with me and my editors think I’m the shizat | …salted lithium.

  6. Angie says:

    If you are the father of the baby and you receive Child Tax Credit for him….whether or not you split it with your girlfriend, they can’t deduct it from your ODSP cheque. Strongarm tactics on our country’s most vulverable has been going on for so many years….I often believe it is this mentality that contributed to the breakdown of actual marriages here in North America. Poor people often find it more beneficial to claim as two single people rather than forfeit any of their already meager existence for red tape……whether it be social assistance, ODSP or old age security. I think its pretty sad that the gov’t pushes people into scamming the system by taking away every shred of their dignity and then when they are caught, they paint a red letter on them and call them crooks. At least they still give you 3 squares if you end up in jail (unless you’re in court cells that is…..then they are allowed to starve you as if you were a social services recipient

  7. Nina says:

    I do not know who on earth your dealing with but I am on ODSP I am disable I have a daughter my ODSP worker said if my daughters father (not disabled) moved in with me because he is unemployed my monthly cheque would go up by almost $300 so your story to me sounds totally made up!

    • Gabriel... says:

      No, not “made up”… this piece is as accurate as I could make it at the time. Everything I was told about moving into a home with my girlfriend and our son is in this piece. What I was told, by two people at my ODSP office, and the reality of what has since happened are two different things. I will have to update this piece.

      But hey, thanks for taking the time to take a dump on my post and not just asking a few questions, or sharing your experience, with a little respect.

      Good luck in the future.

      • Momof2 says:

        Hi I am a mom of 2 on odsp and my boyfriend (father of my kids)and I want to move in together and live together as a family. He is currently unemployed and looking for work. I was wondering what ever happened to you and your family? Did you end up moving in together?

  8. jen says:

    i think you should get a job and stop counting on the goverment for help. if you can walk you should be able to work , we all have iusses you should deal with them. i work and have my own iusses.
    so stop whining and do something with you life.
    i did . been work for a company for almost 12 years.
    i was a single mother . i did it.

    • Gabriel... says:

      First, you can’t spell for shit. Second, if I can walk I’m not disabled? Go fuck yourself. Show me your fucking PhD, show me your research that says a mental illness is not a disability. Seriously, you “been work for a company”? Really? You were a single mother, that’s fantastic. How often did you fantasize about killing yourself? How often did your ‘mind’ work against your finding work, or a place to live, or food? Bet you wished, at some point, that there was a system in place to help you, to facilitate your recovery, to make things just a little fucking easier. Whoops, there are. Ever receive a cheque from the government to help feed your kids? Bet you did. So when are you giving that back?

      Go. Fuck Yourself.

  9. eternalflowers13 says:

    I am so sorry you had such an experience with ODSP. I came across your blog by chance and I truly admire your strength in making the best of a hard situation. Best of luck to you and I hope things become better for you 🙂

    Best wishes.

  10. Momof2 says:

    Did you end up moving in with your girlfriend? If so what had happened with odsp? I am in a similar situation and am afraid of being cut off if my boyfriend moved in with me and our kids

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