| Oct 25, 2007


Feature Article - November 1, 2007

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Legalese - October 25, 2007 Social assistance increase and rate restructuringby Peter Graham, Lawyer

Legalese is 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.

If you are on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), there are changes to your benefits coming soon that you should know about.

The first change provides for increases to the benefit rates for all OW and ODSP recipients. Starting in November 2007, the provincial government is increasing both the Basic Needs amount and the Maximum Shelter amount by 2%.

The second change only affects families with dependent children. This change starts in July 2008 and will be a major change to benefits for families. Single people, couples without children, and parents without dependent children will not be affected. The change is a restructuring of OW and ODSP rates and the introduction of a monthly Ontario Child Benefit.

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If you are now receiving:

a child benefit cheque, made up of the Canada Child Tax Benefit in the National Child Benefit Supplement; and

an OW or ODSP cheque, made up of a Basic Needs amount and a Shelter amount,

from July 2008 onwards, you will receive:

a child benefit cheque, which will be more than before, because a new Ontario Child Benefit will be added to the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the National Child Benefit Supplement; and

an OW or ODSP cheque, which will be less than before for most families because of a reduction in the Basic Needs amount. Maximum Shelter amounts are not being reduced.

There are a couple of other changes included in this rate restructuring. The OW or ODSP cheque will no longer show the National Child Benefit Supplement being deducted. In addition, the Back-To-School allowance and the Winter Clothing allowance will no longer be paid in lump sums in August and November. Instead, these allowances will be included in the monthly Ontario Child Benefit amounts.

The provincial government has made the following commitments about the Ontario Child Benefit and the restructuring of the OW and ODSP rates:

The rate restructuring in July 2008 will not leave any family on OW or ODSP worse off than they were before; and

When the Ontario Child Benefit reaches its maximum level of $92 in 2011, families on social assistance, who are eligible for the maximum Ontario Child Benefit, will be at least $50 a month better off for each child.

If you are in receipt of OW or ODSP and have dependent children, make sure that you are eligible for the Ontario Child Benefit. In order to be eligible, you must have registered your children for the Canada Child Tax Benefit and filed a 2006 tax return.

Information about the Canada Child Tax Benefit is available through your caseworker or online at

www.cra-arc.gc.ca/benefits/cctb/faq_qualifying-e.html.

If you require further information or have any questions, please contact us at the legal clinic.

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