Ontario Works/ODSP – Relevant Consideration in Abuse Claims

Elizabeth Grace was recently interviewed by Law Times News about the limitation on cash entitlements that Ontarians who are receiving benefits under the Ontario Works Program or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are permitted to receive when winning a lawsuit or arriving at a settlement that includes the payment of damages. Those who receive benefits under the Ontario Works Program are required to turn over to the government any amount in excess of the $25,000 if they want to continue receiving benefits. For those receiving benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program, the cap is $100,000. These caps leaves the poor and disabled in Ontario with an unjustifiably small portion of their total cost awards.

Elizabeth Grace’s view is that “these are already people who are obviously living on a shoestring and are economically impoverished by definition in order to get ODSP…And if they have been wronged in some way . . . there’s further hardship on them. Right away that creates an obstacle for that group of people from basically getting perhaps the justice they’re entitled to.”

The  cap could ultimately discourage plaintiffs from seeking recourse, says Grace. “It certainly creates a concern for me taking on those clients and acting for them because it’s a lot of work to bring those cases forward – and to think that my client may be very damaged and they may only be able to keep $100,000,” she says.

The Ontario Disability Support Program Act passed in 1998 implemented the same cash cap as the General Welfare Act, passed in 1990.  Therefore, “it hasn’t even kept up with inflation over the years,” notes Grace, who describes the limitation as “another kick” to wronged plaintiffs.

Law Times article

Elizabeth Grace is a sexual abuse lawyer in Toronto who has specialized in sexual assault matters for almost two decades now. See her professional biography for more information about Elizabeth and her work in the area of sexual abuse law, or email her at egrace@lerners.ca.

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