Veterans caught cash-less in a Catch-22 created by Ford government, say St. Catharines MPP

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Published November 15, 2021 at 11:52 am

St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens shown selling poppies just prior to Remembrance Day. Photo: Facebook
St. Catharines MPP Jennie Smith, also the NDP critic for Veterans, Legions and Military Affairs, says the Ford government have created a situation where veterans are literally locked in at a maximum income of $700/month.

In a joint editorial by Stevens and NDP leader Andrea Horwath, published October 8 by Sunmedia, the pair point out that under the Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), injured veterans can’t receive more than $700/month, an amount that’s “impossible for anyone to live a healthy, safe and dignified life.”

And even when a vet does qualify for a one-time “Disability Award from the Government of Canada in recognition of their sacrifice, the Ford government claws back their OW or ODSP payment.”

In other words, even when injured veterans can get some supplemental income to make ends meet, they claim the Ford government punishes them by lowering their OW and ODSP payments by the same amount.

“Vets are forced to use that one-time award to pay the rent and buy groceries, and don’t get their OW or ODSP benefits back until it’s gone.”

They said the ODSP and OW cash is far too low to start with and that “the NDP is committed to raising them. Clawing back some of that paltry amount from injured veterans is callous.”

Back in October, Gary Pond, the provincial president of the Legion’s Ontario Command, wrote the Ford government to say, “We have numerous veterans who are fearful of even applying for compensation knowing the Ontario provincial government will claw back their basic needs and shelter until the Disability Award is spent. This requires the veteran to re-apply and prove they once again have no way to provide basic needs and shelter.”

Stevens and Horwath said, “On Remembrance Day, our thoughts and our hearts focus on all that veterans have given to secure peace and liberty for us all. For weeks we wear our poppies to show our gratitude, and as a reminder to never forget the sacrifices made. But this year, let’s decide that honouring veterans with ceremonies is not enough.”

“Let’s make sure no veteran leaves a Remembrance Day ceremony hungry, homeless or without hope,” they said, a theme also touched on by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch at a Welland Remembrance Day service.

“A part of our debt to veterans must be paid in concrete supports they can count on. Not only ceremonies, but help to ensure they have a roof over their head, and a decent life here in Ontario after their service.”

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