- October 3, 2017
- by Will Davidson LLP
Living with a disability requires overcoming countless hurdles, which is why public support plans, like the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), are so important. Until recently, however, the ODSP contained stipulations that many Ontario personal injury lawyers disagreed with, including strict eligibility standards and limits on compensation. This August, Queen’s Park took action to amend some of these issues.
The ODSP is a provincial assistance program that provides income and employment support to Ontarians with disabilities. In order to qualify, applicants must be both medically and financially eligible. Prior to August 1, 2017, individual applicants could own no more than $5,000 in cash or liquid assets to qualify, and couples could own no more than $7,000. New provincial legislation raised those limits to $40,000 and $50,000, respectively.
Of more pertinence to Ontario personal injury lawyers are changes to the maximum compensation an ODSP recipient can be awarded in a personal injury case. Previously, that maximum was $100,000 in compensation for pain and suffering; expenses related to the injury or death of a family member; or loss of care, guidance and companionship resulting from the injury or death of a family member. Any compensation over $100,000 would result in the loss of ODSP benefits.
As of August 1, pain and suffering and loss of care, guidance, and companionship awards have no limit for ODSP recipients. The new rules are hugely beneficial to Ontarians with disabilities, who should not have to sacrifice provincial support in order to access compensation for injuries.
“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,” said Community and Social Services Minister Dr. Helene Jaczek, in a provincial release. “These improvements will help ensure vulnerable individuals and families have the flexibility to use their awards in a way which best meets their needs.”
The legislation unsurprisingly enjoys widespread support from Ontario personal injury lawyers and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA).
“The [OTLA] 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,” said OTLA President Claire Wilkinson. “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.”
If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury, contact the Ontario personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our experienced team can help.