COVID-19, Social Assistance

Getting COVID-19 Benefits while on OW or ODSP

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

When the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) ended, the Canadian government created 3 new Recovery Benefits and made changes to Employment Insurance (EI). There are special rules about these programs for people who are on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

This month’s On the Radar looks at how COVID-19 benefits interact with OW and ODSP.

New benefits

To deal with the economic problems caused by COVID-19, the federal government created these new benefits:

These benefits are for people who miss work or lose their jobs because of COVID-19 and don’t qualify for EI. They pay $500 a week.

The government also made changes to EI. They lowered the amount of time that a person needs to qualify to 120 hours. And everyone now gets at least $500 a week.

Clawing back OW and ODSP money

Some people who get OW or ODSP will also qualify for EI or one of the Recovery Benefits. There’s a rule that says if someone on OW or ODSP qualifies for the Recovery Benefits or EI, they must apply to get them.

When someone on OW or ODSP gets money from another source, the government takes back some of their ODSP or OW money. This is often called a “clawback”.

People on OW and ODSP have to report their income every month. And both EI and the Recovery Benefits count as income.

Both EI and the Recovery Benefits are taken dollar for dollar from a person’s OW or ODSP payments. This means that for every dollar they get from EI or a Recovery Benefit, they lose one dollar from their OW or ODSP payments. So, while they’re getting money from these programs, most people will not get any money from OW or ODSP.

Special status

Usually, someone who gets EI or a Recovery Benefit would be removed from OW or ODSP because they have too much income. But instead, during COVID-19, OW or ODSP will give them a special status. This status means that they get $2.50 each month, which lets them:

  • stay on OW or ODSP, and
  • still get things like health benefits and discretionary benefits through OW or ODSP.

Paying back the money

Some people who got the new benefits at the same time as they got OW or ODSP are now being asked to pay OW or ODSP back. This is called an “overpayment”. They’ll get a letter that says they owe money.

Usually, OW and ODSP get money back by reducing a person’s future payments until they repay the full amount. OW and ODSP do not normally cancel someone’s debt.

But it’s often possible to make a deal about how much OW or ODSP takes each month, so that the person does not face “undue hardship”. People who want to do this need to talk to their caseworker.

If someone does not agree they owe money or with the amount OW or ODSP says they owe, they can ask for an internal review. This means that another OW or ODSP worker from the same office reviews the decision and decide whether or not to change it.

For more information about asking for an internal review, see:

If OW or ODSP does not change their decision, people can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal. For more information about an appeal, see:

Getting legal help

For help related to a decision by OW or ODSP , please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic.

housing, News

UPDATE ON LANDLORD AND TENANT LAW: EVICTION SUSPENSION LIFTED AND CHANGES TO EVICTION PROCESS

Repost from HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario. 

The COVID-19 pandemic eviction ban is being lifted in Ontario on August 4, 2020. This means that evictions can once again take place in Ontario. There remains a process for evictions, but for most evictions that process is now different due to recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. Some of the changes related to evictions and other things are as follows:

Evictions can now be fast tracked at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) if a tenant agrees to a repayment plan with their landlord but then misses a payment. It is very important for tenants to get legal advice before agreeing to repayment plans because not following the terms of a plan could lead the landlord to get an eviction order without a hearing at the LTB. If a tenant receives an eviction order in these circumstances, they have only 10 days to request a hearing.

  • Tenants facing eviction for rent owing must now provide written notice to their landlord if they want to raise various issues at the eviction hearing including issues related to repair problems in their units. Before the changes were made to the law, tenants could automatically raise these issues.
  • If a tenant does not challenge an illegal rent increase within 12 months, the new rent now becomes legal and cannot be disputed.
  • Landlords now have 12 months to bring former tenants to the LTB for issues such as rent owing. Before the changes were made to the law, landlords had to take former tenants to Small Claims Court. As Small Claims Court has much stricter rules than the LTB to ensure that tenants are made aware of hearings, there is concern that former tenants will not learn of the hearings at the LTB.

For more details about the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, see this article produced by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario.

While the changes to the law are being challenged in court, the changes are currently in effect. We will provide an update when we have more information about the court challenge.

This information is not intended as, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you live in the City of Kingston, Township of South Frontenac, or Township of Frontenac Islands, please call us at 613-541-0777 or complete the online intake form at https://kclc.ca/contact/ for advice about your specific situation.