Erosion of Social Support for Disabled People in Ontario: An Appraisal of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Using a Human Rights Framework

  • Tracy Smith-Carrier Associate Professor, School of Social Work King's University College, Western University
  • Phyllis Montgomery RN, PhD, Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University
  • Sharolyn Mossey RN, MScN, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University
  • Tanya Shute PhD, RSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work Laurentian University
  • Cheryl Forchuk RN, PhD, Professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences Western University
  • Abraham Rudnick BMedSc, MD, MPsych, PhD, CPRP, FRCPC, CCPE, FCPA, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and School of Occupational Therapy Dalhousie University

Abstract

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is a social assistance program offering income and employment supports for disabled people in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Since its inception, the ODSP has been critiqued by policy analysts, service providers, and its recipients as flawed, principally in terms of the amount and the range of supports provided. The purpose of this paper is to assess whether the ODSP meets its stated objectives from the perspective of its recipients - an important issue for engendering substantive equality for disabled individuals. The design was a supplementary secondary analysis of data collected from seven focus groups (n=46) related to poverty and social inclusion. The overall theme, the ODSP falls short, was communicated through two types of assessments of inadequacies. The first, labelled “yes, but,” acknowledged the program’s positive intent despite its insufficiencies in services and supports. The second, labelled “no, and,” decisively assessed the ODSP as inadequate with supporting rationale. In exploring extant human rights jurisprudence, we conclude that substantive protection against systemic discrimination for disabled people will not be guaranteed unless human rights legislation truly has paramountcy over all other laws. Human rights tribunals have a mandate, reinforced in international human rights law, to provide remedial remedies to systemic discrimination. Our findings speak directly to the need for human rights tribunals and commissions to mitigate the erosion of rights and opportunities for disabled people.

Author Biographies

Tracy Smith-Carrier, Associate Professor, School of Social Work King's University College, Western University

Associate Professor, School of Social Work King's University College, Western University

Phyllis Montgomery, RN, PhD, Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University

RN, PhD, Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University

Sharolyn Mossey, RN, MScN, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University

RN, MScN, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Laurentian University

Tanya Shute, PhD, RSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work Laurentian University

PhD, RSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work Laurentian University

Cheryl Forchuk, RN, PhD, Professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences Western University

RN, PhD, Professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences Western University

Abraham Rudnick, BMedSc, MD, MPsych, PhD, CPRP, FRCPC, CCPE, FCPA, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and School of Occupational Therapy Dalhousie University

BMedSc, MD, MPsych, PhD, CPRP, FRCPC, CCPE, FCPA, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and School of Occupational Therapy Dalhousie University

Published
2020-02-27
Section
Articles