Recent changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) appear to be violating the Ontario human rights code, and the constitutional rights of recipients. In changes the Ontario Government announced in February, the government is threatening to cut off support completely without due process to those who do not provide adequate documentation upon request from a case manager, and is basically allowing itself to conduct searches of a recipient’s home without a warrant. This is a blatant violation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Under the new rules, recipients must provide any requested documentation or face intelligibility or cancellation of all supports:
“Failure to provide required information may result in a decision of ineligibility or cancellation of income support, provided that staff have followed all policy conditions. “
Many who are on ODSP may require assistance in gathering the information government needs to conduct a review. To simply state that if a person doesn’t respond according to government’s wishes the person could be cut off from support and made homeless can be viewed as discriminatory and could put vulnerable people’s lives at severe risk.
Furthermore conducting illegal searches of receipts homes is against our constitution in Canada. They don’t have a right to be on your property or in your home without a warrant, period! If you invite them in, that’s a different story. This whole section while acknowledging search warrants, looks to be against the constitutional rights of recipients:
Home visits should be conducted in accordance with the following guidelines:
For purposes of completing an update report, the recipient is notified in advance of the visit to facilitate information gathering prior to the update interview;
Home visits are to be conducted during normal business hours;
While in the home, only objects in plain view can be noted. There is no authority to look in places or areas that are not in plain view (i.e. cupboards or drawers);
Plain view includes assets such as vehicles, confirming residency and accommodation arrangements, the need for home repairs, etc.;
The right to protection against inappropriate search of the person extends to one’s home. Entry into a person’s home for the purposes of investigating the person or their home would require a search warrant;
If the recipient refuses entry to the home, the reason for the refusal must be obtained. Valid reasons for refusing entry may include an illness in the home, mourning, religious observance and/or visitors in the home where privacy is of concern to the recipient.
In this country we have a constitutional protected right to be not subjected to unreasonable search and seizure. Basically meaning that these searches without a court ordered warrant are unconstitutional. A valid reason to refuse entry into the home would be no warrant. These provisions appear to be banking on the fact that people who are on ODSP do not know what their legal rights are, and the government is attempting to take advantage of that.
Those that are subjected to a review based on these new rules should be in contact with a lawyer immediately before responding to any such review, and DO NOT allow anyone from the Ministry into your home without first seeking legal advice.
I’m not sure if Christine Elliot has taken a look at these recent changes to ODSP, but apparently today she got very upset when questioned on the government’s response to the disabled during this pandemic. Elliot is a caregiver of a disabled family member: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huJx_DSQ5_c&t=2s
On ODSP or are you a caregiver of a disabled child or adult? Check out my post on Ontario’s Broken System of Disability Supports And How To Advocate It for tips on how to advocate the system to ensure you are properly supported and to protect yourself.