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Ontario Helping Social Assistance Recipients Get Ahead

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Ontario Helping Social Assistance Recipients Get Ahead

Province Changing Compensation Award Exemption Rules

Ministry of Community and Social Services

Ontario is helping people who receive support through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works by increasing the exemption limits on compensation awards for loss or injury in order to allow individuals to benefit more from these awards without reducing their income support.

Compensation awards for pain and suffering are now fully exempt as income and assets for individuals receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and are exempt up to $50,000 for individuals receiving Ontario Works.

Raising exemption limits provides individuals receiving ODSP or Ontario Works with the flexibility to use their awards in a way which best meets their needs.  For example, people are now able to use their compensation for day-to-day living expenses or to reduce any debt, not just for pre-approved disability-related costs. The change was effective as of August 1st.

These changes are part of a larger set of social assistance improvements that will be effective on September 1st, which include:

  • An increase in the monthly maximum deduction for disability-related employment expenses under ODSP from $300 to $1,000.
  • Changes to health benefits available under the Transitional Health Benefit to include batteries and repairs for mobility devices.
  • A full income exemption under ODSP of all donations received from a religious, charitable or benevolent organization for any purpose.

Strengthening social assistance is part of Ontario's plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • Changes to social assistance rules now fully exempt compensation awards for ODSP recipients (from the current $100,000 limit) and raise the exemption limit for Ontario Works recipients to $50,000 (from the current limit of $25,000).
  • These compensation exemptions took effect on August 1, 2017 and apply to:
    • Awards for pain and suffering, usually ordered through a court, as a result of a loss or injury to or the death of a family member. For example, this could include an individual or their family member being compensated for facing loss or injury from a car accident or from medical malpractice.
    • Awards for expenses from an injury to or death of a family member (typically in an accident).
    • Awards for loss of care, guidance and companionship due to an injury to or the death of a family member.
    • Awards for non-economic loss under certain sections of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
  • Awards that compensate a person for lost income (e.g., awards for past or future economic loss) will continue to be non-exempt.

Additional Resources

Quotes

Dr. Helena Jaczek

“Our government wants to make sure those who receive social assistance and have, unfortunately, experienced loss or injury, are able to fully utilize the compensation award they’ve received. These improvements will help ensure vulnerable individuals and families have the flexibility to use their awards in a way which best meets their needs.”

Dr. Helena Jaczek

Minister of Community and Social Services

“The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association strongly supports this initiative by the Ontario Government that will provide increased support for some of the most vulnerable Ontarians who have suffered loss or injury. These measures work directly towards our purpose to promote access to justice for all Ontarians, preserve and improve the civil justice system, and advocate for the rights of those who have suffered as the result of wrongdoing by others.”

Claire Wilkinson

President, Ontario Trial Lawyers Association

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