I can’t move in with my girlfriend, and our son, because the Ontario Government hates people, especially when one of them is disabled.
I contacted my Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) case worker last week to find out, once and for all, what ODSP could do to help support my son. He told me the disability support system is basically rigged against disabled parents.
I called them once before, just a few months after my son was born, and the answer I received from ODSP seemed to come from an insane person. I told the “expert” my girlfriend and I lived in the same building, but in separate apartments. After that he kept repeating “I’ve never heard of such a thing” over and over again.
Eventually I had to hang up on him. This region’s primary industry is creating single mothers, and ODSP guy had never heard of two parents living separately.
I decided to call again because recently the ODSP system changed in two ways, one: two people on ODSP can now live together without their cheques being cut in half, and; two: there are no more specialists at ODSP, so when I call for information the only person I’ll ever have to deal with is my case worker.
I like my case worker — in that he never calls me, so when I found out about the changes, I called to find out if it extended to disabled people living with significant others. Unfortunately, it turns out the system is insane, not just some of the people working in it or using it.
He told me ODSP will give me a $100 bump on my monthly cheque for being a daddy… on condition I have custody of my son.
So, with or without his mother, my son must live with me full time in order for me to afford an extra two weeks of diapers. But legal custody also means the monthly baby bonus would be split in two. If it was just me — if my girlfriend were to lose her mind and give up her parental rights, then I’d get the whole bonus.
Regardless of how much of the baby bonus I would receive, whether it’s half or the full amount, it would then be deducted from my ODSP cheque.
But the bigger problem, if my girlfriend and I were to ever live together, would be ODSP would then deduct half of her net monthly income from my ODSP cheque.
That’s right… according to the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services, if I move in with my girlfriend and our son, my ODSP monthly income would drop from $1050 to, roughly, whatever I could raise panhandling.
It would actually be cheaper, or the amount taken out of my cheque would be less, if I were to continue renting my apartment and move in with my girlfriend, then to give it up and tell ODSP I’m moving in with her and our son.
It’s bizarre. ODSP will allow me, someone who has been labelled “permanently disabled” to go out and work at a part time job, as long as my monthly income was less than $500 (give or take). Anything over that and money is deducted from my ODSP income. That kind of makes sense, but the services designed specifically to keep me alive, or support my infant son, are only minimally there.
The ODSP system acknowledges we have a problem beyond our disability, but then it hands us a coupon for a carton of milk to fix our acid burn.
ODSP gives me $50 a month because, as a diabetic, I’m supposed to eat a special, and expensive, diet. So… without the diet, I’m basically just a big sack of nearly dead, but getting there. So… to fix this, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services gives me $50. Which would pay for, roughly, ten days of my doctor-mandated, and prescribed, diet.
“Ah,” says ODSP, “you’ve got diabetes. Well here’s $50 for some apples, see you at the dialysis clinic in five years.”
You have to figure, if they added up the costs of the insulin, dialysis, a kidney transplant, the heart treatments, the amputations, the fake legs, the lost productivity… just add it all up, divide the total cost in two, then just handed us that pile of cash so we could afford a proper diet, and maybe a nice new car, it’d save them 50% of whatever they spend now.
My girlfriend and I want to live together as a family… “ah,” says ODSP, “well, I know you’re both way under the poverty line right now, so all you have to do to live together is cut your income in half.”
It really is bizarre. Someone actually had to decide that if a disabled person moves in with their child and girlfriend, half of their ODSP income should be docked as a penalty. And that, if a disabled person has a kid, they’re not eligible for any support from ODSP, even if the child spends an equal amount of their time in the disabled person’s home.
Depending on whether or not there’s justice in the universe, I assume whoever made those decisions has either died from syphilis, or went on to form their second majority provincial government.