Casey Gould of Dryden is waiting for more detail, after reforms were announced to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). While he lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Gould is trained as a graphic designer.

"For me, the monthly earnings part is big. I'm currently working, making more then I do from ODSP. It would be nice to not lose almost 50 per cent of my support. Also, working on who qualified for the program will help us, who really need it," he said via social media.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness.

Last week, the province announced changes to social assistance, saying they weren't meeting their goals. Only about one per cent of clients on Ontario Works were able to leave the program each month, and about 80 per cent of those able to leave returned within five years.

Lisa MacLeod is the minister responsible, and she'd like to:

  • redesign ODSP to consolidate complex supplements and benefits into simplified financial support for people with severe disabilities
  • review financial eligibility for ODSP yearly, instead of monthly
  • help front-line staff work with people to help them connect to other supports
  • provide clarity to the system around who qualifies for ODSP in the future
  • look at aligning Ontario’s new definition of ‘disability’ more closely with federal government guidelines
  • improve earning exemptions for ODSP recipients by introducing a $6,000 flat annual exemption, plus a 25 per cent exemption for earnings above $6,000 (instead of the current approach which reduces support after monthly earnings exceed $200)

The government took some criticism earlier this year, after closing the experiment into a basic income.

If the government was able to save money by improvements in the system, then maybe the government wouldn't have to look further into the program for cost cutting measures, Gould added.

His supporters started a gofundme page at the end of August, in an effort to help him move from Dryden to Kenora to accept a full-time job. The campaign has raised more than $5,500 to help renovate a home or apartment to suit his needs.

For more information:
Residents facing long wait list for accessible housing
Province to reform OW, ODSP

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