Metro News: Let us keep more money, disability advocates tell province

Posted August 26, 2016

After rent and hydro is paid, Michelle Walrond has only $240 left for the rest of the month.
The 60-year-old former teacher lives on disability payments, the result of severe arthritis in her spine and hips, fibromyalgia and a stroke that affects her memory.
To help make ends meet, she teaches English online to two South Korean students. She would do more if she could.
It’s not that she can’t take on more work, it’s that after a certain point the province claws back so much of her income, it’s not worth her time.
Walrond will join social justice group ACORN Ottawa at a rally outside MPP Bob Chiarelli’s office Friday, where they’ll call for the right to keep more of their income while receiving payments from the Ontario Disability Support Program. They’re hoping to get 5,000 signatures on a petition, too.
Right now, those on ODSP can make up to $200 a month without affecting their monthly allowance. Beyond that, the province keeps 50 per cent of anything they earn.
That’s a disincentive to work and keeps people in poverty, Walrond said.
“It’s not only frustrating, it’s totally counterintuitive,” said Walrond. “Just because you’re disabled … doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. I do have the ability to earn some income.”
ACORN would like to see the income limit raised to $800, said Tina Ford, chairwoman of ACORN Ottawa’s social assistance committee.
With that amount, “these people would have extra money for food, expenses, clothing,” Ford said. “You don’t have to go to the food bank as much, or you can buy a bus pass. They would have better food, more healthy food.”
ACORN also wants the province to change its asset limits so families can keep more than $7,500 in savings at a time.
The rally starts at 12 p.m. Friday at 2249 Carling Avenue in Carlingwood.
Article by Emma Jackson for Metro News Ottawa