Poverty and Guaranteed Income

Most disabled people are poor:

Disabled people are among the poorest people in any given society.

Within this group, people labeled with intellectual disabilities tend to be even poorer.

This means that there is a direct relationship between intellectual disability and poverty.

– copy of the presentation by Adele Furrie giving the stats on poverty –

Most disabled people do not work. Why not?

  • Many disabled people would like to work, but they face discrimination that prevents them from finding a job.
  • Some disabled people cannot work

Whatever the reason, most disabled people are unemployed.

Instead of receiving a work income, they receive social assistance.

What is social assistance?

  • ODSP, or the Ontario Disability Support Program, is an example of a social assistance program designed for disabled people.

What does social assistance do?

ODSP and other social assistance programs are supposed to protect disabled people from poverty.

These programs are supposed to provide disabled people with enough money to cover their rent, purchase food, and live a dignified life.

What is wrong with social assistance?

Instead of allowing disabled people to live a dignified life, social assistance programs are keeping disabled people in poverty.

People living on ODSP do not have enough money to pay their rent, purchase food, and live a dignified life. This means that they are living in poverty.

Another way to think about the situation is through the Low Income Cut Off (LICO).

Poverty is often measured by the Low Income Cut Off (LICO).

Currently, the Low Income Cut off is $24,600.

This means that you need to receive at least $24,600 a year. If you receive less, than you are definitely living in poverty.

If you are receiving ODSP, than you are probably only receiving $13,536 a year.

[LINK to graphic]

Disabled people deserve better!

What is good about social assistance?

People who receive ODSP also have access to a drug and dental plan.

If you receive ODSP, the drug and dental plan pays for the cost of your medications, dental visits, and many other health-related needs.

If you receive ODSP, you may also have funding for other supports.

We discuss these supports in another section of the website [LINK].

Other Options

What is Universal Pharmacare?

Universal pharmacare guarantees that everyone has access to prescription medication.

It is also a program that helps separate disability supports from income.

What is a Basic Income?

Many disabled people are asking for a Basic Income.

They want to replace social assistance programs, like ODSP, with a Basic Income.

A Basic Minimum Income provides a basic income for everyone. A Basic income is not tied to work and it is not based on disability.

Instead, it guarantees that everyone has enough money to pay their rent, purchase food, and live a dignified life. It does this by keeping everyone above the Low Income Cut-Off Line.


How is a Basic Income different from ODSP?

  • People receive enough money to cover the costs of living
  • Disabled people are no longer segregated – they receive money through the same program as everyone else
  • Less money is wasted in administration costs and more money goes directly to people

Moving Towards Universal Programs

The two new programs described in this section are:

  • Universal Pharmacare
  • Guaranteed Minimum Income

These two programs could help replace ODSP and other social assistance programs.

They are different from ODSP and social assistance because they do not segregate disabled people. Instead, they are universal programs – this means that they provide support to everyone.

Further Reading:

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has completed consultations on basic income, and are starting pilot projects to explore the implications.  The published a news release on March 16th, 2017.

Plan Institute is a Canadian organization that researches and provides advice to policy makers and communities on issues related to disability and financial security.  They published The Soul of Poverty on guaranteed minimum income and summarized key issues on their website.

Plan is based in British Columbia but they cover national issues and solutions to disability based issues.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is a Canadian think tank that studies social policy.  CCPA has released two reports on guaranteed minimum income:

  • A Policymaker’s Guide to Basic Income, simulates various potential basic income models to determine which ones do better at reducing poverty in a cost-effective way.
  • A basic income compendium, brings together over a dozen public policy experts to share different views on the risks and benefits of a basic income.

Recent news articles describe the benefits of providing Canadians with Pharmacare: