ODSP changes fall short for amputees

By Joanne Dorr

The Haldimand Press

HALDIMAND—The Ontario Government recently made changes to the amount of money Ontario Disability Support Payment (ODSP) recipients are allowed to earn without their ODSP support being affected. But for Ontarians with the most severe disabilities like amputees, this change is underwhelming. 

As part of Ontario’s 2022 Fall Economic Statement released in November 2022, the province adjusted ODSP allowable earnings from $200 to $1,000 per month. After the $1,000 exemption is reached, ODSP will be reduced by 75 cents of each dollar earned. Essentially, this allows ODSP recipients to take home only 25% of what they earn beyond the $1,000 exemption. 

In a Letter to the Editor written by Annelise Petlock, Director of Advocacy for The War Amps Ontario, Petlock cautions, “The government must recognize that this amount is well below the poverty line and provide a living wage to all persons with disabilities and increased coverage for artificial limbs.”  

According to Ontario Living Wage Network, Haldimand-Norfolk’s 2022 living wage was $19.80/hr at 35 hours/week. Studies also show only 31% of those living with severe disabilities participate in the workforce, meaning the allowable earnings cap increase has no benefit at all on those physically unable to work. 

Petlock tells the story of an amputee and ODSP recipient who needed a $23,806 prosthetic hand that could open and close to help her hold a plate and open a door. The Ontario government covered a portion of the cost, leaving her to pay the $13,598 balance. The War Amps stepped up to fill the gap for this amputee. 

However, in the absence of the War Amps support, and if she had to rely on the new income gap rules, her story would play out quite differently. Assuming she is among the 31% of amputees who participate in the workforce and is earning a living wage and working 35 hours a week, she would still need to work for three years to pay off the $13,598 balance.  

Petlock asserts, “Without adequate funding for the artificial limbs they need, amputees in Ontario will continue to be impacted in their ability to work at all. For amputees in receipt of ODSP, changing the income cap misses the mark entirely.”

To learn more about the War Amps, please visit waramps.ca.