For $294 million, ODSP gives us… business as usual.

The Ontario Disability Support Program ((ODSP) and I haven’t been on friendly terms for as long as I’ve been barely living independently on what they toss me. The reasons are plenty and exceedingly detailed, but can probably very easily be boiled down to a few somewhat key factors. And those can be summarized approximately this way. The Ontario disability Support Program has itself a disability.

When you approach any government at all with the expectation that they might actually be able to do something semi-useful to help you, it’s almost a necessity that you make ready with a plan B, C, D and E just in case–because assuming that help actually comes in the form of something you can do decent things with, getting it to you is going to take far too long, be far too complicated, be far too little and come attached to far too many restrictions to end up doing you or them any amount of actual good in the long run. Unless they decided instead that nope, at which point it gets even more fun if you’re you.

ODSP finally has madness like this down to a science. And it’s all brought to you by the brand spanking new case management system that does pretty well nothing you expect it to do and not very well while it’s at it. For the $294 million price-tag their new system comes with, we have a front row seat to all manner of disfunction from all manner of levels. This new case management system, the money for which could have probably gone and done some good in just about any number of far more productive ways, now makes it possible for the fine folks over at ODSP to do the following things even better than they have in years previous.

  • Babysit an entirely dependent woman’s bank account while communicating as little as possible with her caretakers, then cut her off completely when they think she’s socked away too much money
  • Knock a significantly less dependent woman off ODSP for daring to do a little work for herself
  • Force recipients to repeatedly prove, by way of medical documentation–even for conditions that won’t be changing any time soon, that yes, they’re still broken and yes, they still qualify for support and yes, you should still pay them–and then manage to screw up the review process
  • That is, when the system–or the staff who run it–isn’t accidentally making the payments you keep having to requalify for disappear for reasons no one seems capable of knowing

And all it cost the province–translation: people who actually work for a living–for the pleasure was over a quarter billion. Not bad, if the government says so itself–which it does, as often as it can get away with. But on the bright side, we now know why people on ODSP don’t get to afford pithy little things like, you know, paying the rent. I wonder where a disabled program that could really use a little extra money could pull it from. For that kind of cash, we could use something a little bit better than business as usual.

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