Ontario Works, ODSP

by Ron Payne
(Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

This was sent to the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, the Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Hamilton city councilor Bernie Morelli, via e-mail on Feb 24 08.


My question to you and to myself is how do they get away with the callous and unjust manner that workers approach their clients with, at Ontario Works, ODSP and even the Social Benefits Tribunal?

The answer is very simple. BECAUSE THEY CAN

For the record I would like to state, I have seen many improvements to the SBT since a change of it’s Chair and I expect to see many more. I can’t say the same for Ontario Works and ODSP.

The research shows when clients have contact with workers the response is not always the same. You could ask three different workers the same question and receive three different answers.

If the worker doesn't especially like you, they will simply ignore you. This means things like no return phone calls, ignoring verbal requests for benefits, requesting more than usual documents be brought in to prove eligibility and so on.

If the worker really doesn't like you, they will often do everything in their power to harass, intimidate and frustrate you into giving up and going away. This means things like ignoring written requests for benefits, telling you that the benefit doesn’t exist, denying benefits when you are entitled and no decision letters and so on.

If the worker does like you, they will give you any of the benefits that you ask for if you entitled. This is only if the worker is aware of the benefits requested. Here is an interesting problem. The vast majority of the workers are not aware of benefits that are available. This even includes some of the excellent workers. Another problem is that the fast majority of clients don’t even know what the benefits are.

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All clients must document, tape record and video record everything, every time when dealing with any OW or ODSP staff.
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The governments must, as a gesture of good will, give all Ontario Works and ODSP clients a written copy of the benefits that they say clients are entitled.

This would be a first concrete step taken to start the process in eliminating poverty.

Ontario Works Directive # 31.0 found at
http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/directives/directives/OWDirectives/4_1_OW_Directives.aspx

or the:

Ontario Disability Support Program Directives #s 9.1 to 9.19. Found at

http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/index.aspx

The only real remedy to this problem is for clients to sue their respective governments. For Ontario Works it would be their local municipal government and the Province of Ontario and for ODSP it would be the Province of Ontario.

In the Ontario Works Act it states No personal liability

77.(1)No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director, a delivery agent, an officer or employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act.

In the Ontario Disability Support Program it states No personal liability

58. (1) No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director or a delivery agent, an officer, employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act. 1997, c. 25, Sched. B, s. 58 (1).

This means that a client could sue for damages if bad faith could be proven.

It is called bad faith; a person who intentionally tries to deceive or mislead another in order to gain some advantage.

It is called willful blindness or willful deceit.

The government must get rid of the discretionary powers it allows workers in the OW and OSSP, Act, Regulations and Directives.

You’re either entitled to benefits or your not. It is extremely simple but the government will not do it until it gets sued for Bad Faith.

It’s so simple; all the government has to do is to look at how the federal government implements its Employment Insurance application process, and they are saving millions.

To receive benefits you must go online to apply, with exceptions for some disabled clients. You fill out a simple template and the next thing you experience is a cheque in the mail. If the federal government trusts us why can’t you?

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario.
E-mail Ron Payne

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