It was announced at the March 27, 2012 Ontario Provincial Budget that social assistance rates will be frozen for the next year.

Social Assistance inOntariocomprises two main programs – Ontario Works (OW), formerly called “welfare” and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Ontario Works is a municipal program, so payment rates can vary around the province, but not that substantially. This program assists people who have very low liquid assets, no present income, and are in need of immediate financial assistance. The Ontario Disability Support Program is a provincial program, helping people who have a significant disability and also have few liquid assets or income. The rates would be similar across the province. For many people with a disability, including people with cancer, they must access Ontario Works while waiting for their ODSP to be granted. The wait time is usually a minimum of 6 months. And only about 50% of the people who apply to ODSP are granted – the remainder are not seen as meeting the definition of disability and continue to receive Ontario Works.

In Toronto, a single person on OW would receive just under $600 a month – $599 to be exact. There could be additional income for such items as a special diet, transportation costs or medical needs. A single person anywhere inOntario, who has a disability, would receive a maximum monthly entitlement of $1064.  Like Ontario Works, there could be additional funds for special diet, volunteering, transportation or medical needs.

The cost of living increase for 2012 is expected to be somewhere between 2% and 3%.  The proposed freeze means that government assistance will not keep pace with the cost of living.

Wellspring offers Money Matters, a program designed to address financial concerns of people touched by cancer.  This program can be accessed in person or by phone.  To book an appointment, please call 416-961-1493.