| Nov 24, 2005

Legalese - November 24, 2005

Back toHome

Legalese - November 24, 2005

New rules for ODSPandOWSpecialDietAllowance

by Heidi Lazar-Meyn, Lawyer

A column of general information and opinion on legal topics by the lawyers of Rural Legal Services, Box 359, Sharbot Lake, ON, K0H2P0, 613-279-3252, or 1-888-777-8916. This column is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations.

“On 4 November 2005, Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Community and Social Services, Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, and Minister Responsible for Ontarians with Disabilities filed new regulations that will change the rules for entitlement to the special diet allowance (“SDA”) under the Ontario Disability Support Program (“ODSP”) Act and the Ontario Works (“OW”) Act. These regulations will be published in the Ontario Gazette on 19 November 2005.


Under the present regulations, persons who receive ODSP or OW benefits can get a SDA of up to $250 per month to buy vitamins, nutritional supplements and special foods that are listed on Special Diet Schedules, if an approved health professional says that they need these things because of a medical condition or to keep healthy. In the past, many ODSP and OW recipients did not know that they could get the SDA. Many persons who just learned about it recently have been applying for the SDA, and have been approved.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services (“MCSS”) says that the new regulations are to clarify the policy that only persons who need the SDA due to a medical condition should be getting it. But the changes will make it harder for the persons who need a special diet to get the SDA.

Community and clinic activists are very concerned about the new regulations, and are considering next steps. We will keep you posted in future issues of ARCH Alert.

Under the new regulations, each person in the benefit unit who needs a special diet will still be able to get a SDA of up to $250. But the approved health professional now must confirm that the person needs a special diet because of a specifically-listed medical condition. Persons who need a special diet because of a medical condition that is not listed on the new Schedule 1 for Special Diets, or to stay healthy, no longer will be eligible.

Schedule 1 for Special Diets lists how much money a person gets for each medical condition, “unless otherwise specified”. For example, a person who is diagnosed with diabetes ordinarily will get $42 a month, and a person who is diagnosed with high blood pressure will get $10 a month.

Persons who were getting the SDA on 3 November 2005 will have to confirm within 90 days that they have a medical condition that meets the new requirements for the SDA. If persons who receive the SDA do not provide information about their special diet needs when asked, they will not get the SDA as part of their benefits.

MCSS also has made new policies about the SDA. To apply for the SDA, a physician, an approved registered nurse or a registered dietician (or a registered or traditional Aboriginal midwife, for pregnant women only) now must complete an original form approved by MCSS. Persons who are getting the SDA will need to get a new application form completed in the future, and will have their need for the SDA reviewed as part of the Consolidated Verification Process (ODSP) or every 12 months (OW).

This short summary does not cover all of the details of the new SDA regulations or of the policies that MCSS will use to determine eligibility under them. Also, MCSS says that it will issue more directions and policies soon, which may change how the regulations are applied. If you have any questions, you should contact your local ODSP or OW office or your local legal aid clinic.”

Other Stories this Week View RSS feed

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.