Legal, News, Social Assistance

HOT TOPIC: Overpayment Recoveries

OW and ODSP Overpayment Recovery Rates May Increase From 5% to 10%


The Auditor General has recommended that both Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) increase the amount they collect toward outstanding overpayments.

The law allows overpayments to be recovered by deducting 10% of benefits. However, previously overpayment recovery was usually set at 5%.

What’s happening?

OW and ODSP’s policy directives have changed, and caseworkers are expected to set the overpayment recovery rate at 10% when the cause of the overpayment is believed to be in the recipient’s control to have prevented.

I have an existing or new overpayment. What can I do?


  • notice an increase of the overpayment recovery on your statement of assistance
  • receive a notice of a new overpayment
  • receive a letter from the Financial Services Office


Contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic by phone at 613-541-0777 or by dropping by 345 Bagot Street.


Legal, News, Provincial Budget

Potential cuts to Legal Aid funding in Ontario could impact Local Community Services

The Provincial budget of April 11, 2019, calls for significant cuts to Legal Aid funding in Ontario. If these cuts are of the reported magnitude of 30%, it could result in a serious reduction in front-line services in the City of Kingston, Township of South Frontenac, and Township of Frontenac Islands.

The Kingston Community Legal Clinic provides legal services, education, and information to our communities, as well as helping our most vulnerable residents keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads.

“We are calling on the Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney, to make a commitment to access to justice, and to respect the commitment of her government to not decrease front line services, and to confirm that funding for community clinics will not be decreased” said Lenny Abramowicz, the Executive Director of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario.

“We don’t yet know how this apparent cut will affect our local clinic. We will work with our communities as the impact on our services becomes known” said John R. Done, Executive Director of the Kingston Community Legal Clinic.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with information about our Community Legal Clinic services. Should you have any questions, please contact:

John R. Done, Executive Director, Kingston Community Legal Clinic

613-541-0777, Ext. 25

Social Assistance

ODSP Dental Benefits: Now Paperless

As of Monday, April 1, 2019, all ODSP recipients and spouses eligible for dental benefits will be expected to use their monthly statement of assistance or government ID (such as a driver’s licence, valid Ontario Health Card, or passport) to access dental services.

These changes do not apply to children and spouses of ODSP recipients under 18. Children and spouses of ODSP recipients under 18 will continue to receive dental cards under Healthy Smiles of Ontario.


CCP-Disability, Human Rights

Human Rights Tribunal ruling on insurance companies and CPP-D: Reilly v. Ford

Re-posted from Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)

In a disappointing decision released on January 18, 2019, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that insurance companies do not discriminate when they deduct benefits received from a Canada Pension Plan Disability pension from long-term disability insurance payments.

Background on the Case

Disability insurance plays a critical role in ensuring that those who are off work due to disability have access to the income they need to survive. Every worker contributes to the Canada Pension Plan and many also contribute to private long-term disability insurance plans through their workplace.

However, payments from disability plans are always less than the worker earned while they were working. This often leaves a big income gap at a time when the worker’s expenses are actually higher because of their disability-related needs. Persons with disabilities often have higher costs of living because they have to pay for things like medications, assistance with daily care, travel for treatment, and housing that can accommodate them.

To compound this problem, private insurance companies have a practice of deducting Canada Pension Plan – Disability (CPP-D) benefits from long-term disability payments. But CPP-D payments are only made to workers who can show that they have severe disabilities that will prevent them from working for a long time. The deduction of CPP-D from long-term disability payments means that those with the most severe disabilities actually get less from their long-term disability insurance company than those with milder disabilities.

Paul Reilly is on a long-term leave from Ford Motor Company, and qualifies for both CPP-D and long-term disability through Ford’s private insurance plan. The Ford plan deducts his CPP-D payments dollar-for-dollar. He challenged that practice in an application at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on the grounds that it discriminates against him on the basis of disability.

The Income Security Advocacy Centre partnered with the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario and the ARCH Disability Law Centre to intervene in the case. Our coalition argued that it is discriminatory for insurance companies and employers to pay a smaller amount of long-term disability benefits to people who are receiving CPP-D payments.

The Human Rights Tribunal’s Decision

The Human Rights Tribunal did not accept that insurance companies are discriminating against CPP-D beneficiaries. The Tribunal concluded that private insurance long-term disability policies guarantee that beneficiaries will have a certain amount of their income replaced every month, but not that the insurance company will be the sole source of that income replacement. Since the combined income of people getting private insurance without CPP-D deductions is the same as the income of people getting private insurance with CPP-D deductions, the Tribunal concluded there was no discrimination.

To read the Tribunal’s decision, click here:

Next Steps

The Income Security Advocacy Centre continues to be concerned that CPP-D benefits do not allow many beneficiaries to escape poverty. Indeed, 22% of CPP-D beneficiaries are low-income, as compared to 15% of all Canadians aged 18-64. Deducting CPP-D from long-term disability benefits contributes to the financial hardship faced by persons with disabilities.

Whether or not Mr. Reilly decides to try to challenge the Tribunal’s decision in court, the Income Security Advocacy Centre will continue the fight with persons with disabilities to achieve economic justice.

Note: This post gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation. For legal advice, please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777.

Social Assistance

OW & ODSP: What is a “Health Spending Account”?

Re-posted from Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)

What a “Health Spending Account” might mean to people on OW & ODSP

On November 22, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services announced a number of proposed changes to the social assistance system in Ontario. Among these proposed changes are the creation of something called a Health Spending Account.

While there are currently very few details about the proposed Health Spending Account, our backgrounder outlines some concerns and questions about what it could mean, including:

  • Will a Health Spending Account give people enough money to pay for all of their health-related needs, especially if their costs are very high?
  • How will people access the Health Spending Account?
  • Who will have access to the Health Spending Account?
  • What impact could the Health Spending Account have on eligibility for OW and ODSP?

Read the ISAC backgrounder here:

Note: This post gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation. For legal advice, please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777.


No More Rent Control for New Apartments

Re-posted from ON THE  RADAR, a publication of Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)

The provincial government is allowing landlords of new apartments to raise the rent by any amount.

This month’s On the Radar explains which units are affected by this change, and what it means for tenants.

Rent control basics

Most rented homes in Ontario are covered by 3 rules about rent increases:

  1. The landlord must wait at least one year between increases.
  2. The landlord must give the tenant at least 90 days’ written notice of any increase.
  3. The increase can’t be more than the provincial rent guideline for that year, unless the landlord gets approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board. For 2019, the guideline is 1.8%.

It’s the last rule that’s now been taken off most new rental units. This means that those units are exempt from the rent guideline.

Which rental units are no longer covered by the rent guideline?

The new exemption applies to many units created or first rented after November 15, 2018. That was the date the government announced this change.

The new law says that the following types of units are exempt from the rent guideline:

  • units in newly occupied buildings
  • units in newly occupied additions
  • new units in houses

Newly occupied buildings

If a building had no one living in it on or before November 15, 2018, all the units in it are exempt.

For example, this would apply if a building had only commercial tenants, such as a store or factory, before November 15, 2018. As long as the first people to live there moved in after November 15, all of the units people live in are exempt from the rent guideline.

Newly occupied additions

These are units in a new section that’s added on to a building, if this addition had no one living in it on or before November 15, 2018.

For example, this could be a rental building built in 1974, with a new addition built in 2018. As long as the first people to live in the addition moved in after November 15, 2018, all of the units in the addition are exempt from the rent guideline.

But units in the original part of building continue to be covered by guideline.

New units in houses

These are self-contained apartments created in a house after November 15, 2018.

It must be a house that didn’t contain more than 2 living units on or before that date. The house can be detached or semi-detached, or a townhouse or row house.

It must also meet certain other conditions.

For example, this could be a house that was built as a single-family home and was later divided into a main floor unit and an upstairs unit. The owner lives upstairs and rents out the main floor.

In March 2019, the owner gets the basement finished and creates an apartment there, with a kitchen, bathroom, and separate entrance. The new basement apartment is exempt from the rent guideline. But the main floor unit is still covered.

What does it mean if a unit is exempt?

Tenants who rent these units no longer have any legal protection against large rent increases.

At the end of their first year, and every year after that, their landlord can raise the rent as much as they want, as long as they give 90 days’ written notice.

It’s important that tenants renting new units know about this. A year after they move in, the rent could go up so much that they can’t afford it. Then their only option may be to move out.

Less protection from unfair evictions

Being exempt from the rent guideline creates another danger for tenants.

A landlord might want to get rid of a tenant for reasons the law does not allow, for example because the tenant is asking for repairs to the apartment.

The landlord can’t use this reason to give the tenant an eviction notice or to ask the Landlord and Tenant Board for an eviction order.

But now the landlord can try to force the tenant to move by raising the rent to a level that they know the tenant can’t afford.

There was one situation in the past when the Board decided that a landlord could not do something like this. But the Board might make a different decision in future cases.

A tenant in this situation might want to get legal advice.

Note: This post gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation. For legal advice, please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777.


N12: What You Need to Know

Sarah Forsyth | Staff Lawyer

Has your landlord asked you to move out of your rental unit because the landlord’s family member wants to move in?

Here is what you need to know.

Most tenancies are protected by the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006. Just because your landlord says you have to leave, does not mean you need to move out. The Landlord and Tenant Board is the body that decides whether or not tenancies end.

The N12 Notice

To ask you to leave so a family member can move in, your landlord must serve you with a “Notice to End your Tenancy Because the Landlord, a Purchaser or a Family Member Requires the Rental Unit”. This is also called an N12 Notice.

The landlord can only use this notice for specific, close family members. It cannot be used for extended family. The N12 can be used for:

  • The landlord
  • The landlord’s spouse
  • The landlord’s child
  • The landlord’s parent

The Rules

The N12 Notice must follow certain rules. If the rules are not followed, the N12 Notice could be void and the landlord may have to start over.

If you receive an N12 Notice, check for the following:

  • There must be 60 days between the date the landlord gives you the N12 Notice and the termination date
  • The termination date must be on the last day of a rental period. This means that if you pay rent on the first of each month, the termination date must be the last day of the month
  • Your rental unit must be listed properly
  • All tenants must be named

What Happens Next?

You do not have to move out by the termination date. If the landlord wants you to leave, it may file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board and ask for a hearing. At the hearing, the Board will decide whether or not to issue an order evicting the tenant.

At the Hearing

A landlord has up until the day of the hearing to produce an affidavit from the family member moving in. The affidavit should explain:

  • The reason the family member wants to move in
  • That the family member wants to live in the unit for at least one year

A landlord must also provide the tenant with a cheque for one month’s rent by the termination date on the N12 Notice at the latest.

What if I Do Not Believe the N12 is Truthful?

A landlord must give an N12 Notice in “good faith.” This means that the family member identified on the N12 must genuinely intend to move into the rental unit for at least one year.

If you do not believe this to be true, you may allege that the N12 Notice was given in “bad faith” at the hearing. You must be prepared to bring evidence with you that proves your suspicions.

Possible examples of evidence showing bad faith:

  • Your landlord recently tried to illegally increase your rent
  • Your landlord told you or someone else that the notice is not genuine

After the Hearing – What if I am Evicted?

If the Board orders that the tenants must vacate the rental unit, they must do so by the date ordered. If the tenants do not vacate by that date, the landlord may ask the Sheriff to enforce the Board’s order by changing the locks to the unit.

Tenants should keep an eye on the rental unit for one year after the date they vacate. If the tenant learns that the family member either never moved into the rental unit, or lived there only for a short period of time, the tenant may bring an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board and request compensation. Possible remedies include:

  • The difference in rent for one year, if the tenant’s new rental unit has a higher rent
  • Costs of moving expenses

If you have questions, receive an N12 Notice, or other notice, you are welcome to contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic for assistance.