In August and September, the Ontario Government announced changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works that will make it easier for recipients to maintain access to their benefits. The moves have been roundly applauded by Ontario personal injury lawyers, including leading members of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA).
“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,” said OTLA President Claire Wilkinson in a provincial release. “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.”
On September 1, the government announced increases to ‘asset limits,’ defined by the Toronto Star as “how much money recipients are allowed to have as assets or savings before having their benefits clawed back.” The limit rose from $5,000 to $40,000 for single ODSP recipients and from $7,500 to $50,000 for couples. Ontario Works limits jumped from $2,500 to $10,000 and from $5,000 to $15,000 for those same groups.
Importantly for Ontario personal injury lawyers and their clients, limits on compensation which can be received in personal injury trials for pain and suffering, expenses from the death or injury of a family member, and loss of care, guidance and companionship from the death or injury of a family member have changed drastically. Previously, ODSP recipients could receive a maximum of $100,000 before seeing their benefits cut; today there is no limit. Ontario Works recipients can now receive $50,000 in compensation, up from $25,000.
By exempting compensation awards from the limits imposed on ODSP recipients, the Government of Ontario has made it easier for severely injured individuals to access the care they need for an effective recovery.
The province’s changes have received generally positive reviews from Ontario personal injury lawyers and victims’ rights groups, but some believe there is still room to improve. The Government of British Columbia recently raised asset limits to $100,000 and eliminated caps on cash gifts entirely, an example some advocates would like to see Ontario follow.
If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious injury as a result of an accident, contact the Ontario personal injury lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to find out how we can help. Our experienced, understanding team has been protecting the rights of injured Ontarians for decades, and can help you and your family along your path to recovery.