As a result of a lobby effort lead by OTLA and OTLA Board of Directors member Simona Jellinek, the Ministry of Community and Social Services has amended regulations that fully exempt all compensation awards for pain and suffering as income and assets for individuals receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). This change took effect August 1, 2017.
Previously, ODSP exempted awards of only up to $100,000. For individuals receiving Ontario Works, the exemption amount has increased to $50,000. In addition, the government has also removed the requirement that individuals apply for exemptions, for example, for reasonable treatment costs or disability-related benefits.
This change has eliminated a two-tier compensation system that negatively impacted accident victims, specifically survivors of sexual assault. When this issue was first brought to the attention of the Ministry, the focus was aimed at supporting survivors of sexual violence and harassment. This initiative has now grown to include all compensation awards for pain and suffering.
I would personally like to thank Simona and her team for their advocacy on this issue. Without your leadership, this regulatory change would not have been a priority for the government.