2.8 — Participation requirements for non-disabled adult dependents
Summary of policy
Unless they meet the criteria for a a waiver or deferral, non-disabled adult members of an ODSP recipient unit must complete an Ontario Works participation agreement or action plan and comply with the employment assistance provisions in the Ontario Works Regulation as a condition of eligibility for ODSP. Non-disabled adults include:
- a dependent adult
- a spouse other than a spouse who has been adjudicated and found to be a person with a disability under section 4 of the ODSP Act, or who is a member of a prescribed class under section 4 of the ODSP Regulation
Non-disabled adults receiving Extended Health Benefits (EHB) do not have participation requirements and cannot be referred to Ontario Works.
Summary of directive
Unless they meet the criteria for waiver or deferral, non-disabled adults are referred to Ontario Works to receive employment assistance to help them become and stay employed.
These individuals are required to comply with the employment assistance provisions in the Ontario Works regulations.
ODSP income support issued on behalf of the family member can be reduced if the family member does not comply with the requirements.
Intent of policy
To improve the employment outcomes of non-disabled adults on ODSP by ensuring that they are referred to Ontario Works employment services, where appropriate.
Application of policy
Referral to Ontario Works
The Ministry of Community and Social Services’ Regional Offices and Ontario Works delivery agents negotiate Joint Implementation Plans that set out local protocols for referring non-disabled adults of ODSP recipients to Ontario Works employment services.
Local office staff will ensure that a structured employment discussion takes place when a case is granted ODSP which includes a non-disabled adult. Structured employment discussions are not required for non-disabled adults that have active participation agreements or action plans with Ontario Works at the time they are granted ODSP.
This discussion should take place before a discussion about whether a waiver or deferral is appropriate. The discussion must include:
- the services offered by Ontario Works and ODSP Employment Supports
- what work-related benefits are available
- reporting and the impact of earnings on income support
A referral to Ontario Works employment assistance is made, unless the criteria for a waiver or deferral are met.
Once they have been referred to Ontario Works employment services, non- disabled adults are required, as a condition of eligibility, to complete to complete a participation agreement or an action plan and to participate in Ontario Works employment assistance activities.
The participation agreement or action plan is an individualized, detailed action plan towards self- reliance. It is a commitment by the person to participate in specific employment assistance activities and to obtain and maintain employment.
Criteria to have referral waived or deferred
A non-disabled adult will be referred to Ontario Works employment assistance except in the following circumstances:
- They are already engaged in employment or employment related activities and participation in Ontario Works employment assistance activities are unlikely to increase their chances of becoming and staying employed, or increasing earnings.
This could include participation in full-time school or training. Where a non-disabled adult is waived because they are attending school or other training full-time, the referral will be made at the appropriate time (for example, a few months before completion).
- They are a sole support parent with at least one dependent child (or child for whom temporary care assistance is being received) and publicly funded education is not available for the child
- They are 65 years of age or older
- They have ongoing caregiving obligations for a family member who is ill, elderly or disabled and participation is impracticable as a result (for example, caregiving responsibility is full-time, or the caregiving requirements are unpredictable and scheduling other activities is impossible). (See Restrictions to Participation and Required Documentation, below)
- There are exceptional circumstances for waiving or deferring the referral
The following are exceptional circumstances:
- the person meets the eligibility requirements for and has been referred to ODSP employment supports
- A person who does not qualify for income support as a person with a disability may nevertheless meet the threshold for ODSP employment supports. If a person fails to make progress in their employment plan while receiving ODSP employment supports, and the person’s employment supports file is closed, a referral should be made to Ontario Works if appropriate. A person cannot be found non-compliant if they fail to make progress in ODSP employment supports.
- the person is a foster parent with a formal foster child placement and publicly funded education is not available for the foster child
- the person is on a pregnancy and/or parental leave from employment
- the person is faced with immediate stability issues (for example: unstable housing, abusive situations)
- the person is under house arrest; \the person is receiving Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits
- the person currently has an illness or injury or disability
- other exceptional circumstances for waiving or deferring the referral
Restrictions to participation
A non-disabled adult with restrictions to participation, such as limits on the hours of work or type of work that they can do, may still be referred to Ontario Works employment services or ODSP employment supports, where appropriate.
Caregiving responsibilities (for a family member who is ill, elderly or disabled) can restrict a person’s ability to work or engage in work-related activities but do not necessarily constitute grounds for a waiver or deferral.
To qualify for a waiver or deferral, caregiving responsibilities must make it impracticable for the person to participate in Ontario Works employment assistance on even a limited basis. For example, the person has:
- a highly unpredictable care-giving schedule
- significant caregiving responsibilities that prevent the ability to participate even on a part-time basis
Appropriate documentation is required to identify restrictions to participation (see Required Documentation, below).
If a restriction on participation is in place, the person must be advised of their responsibility to advise their caseworker of any changes in circumstances which may affect their ability to participate in employment assistance activities.
To order to have their referral to Ontario Works waived or deferred, the non-disabled adult is required to provide appropriate documentation to verify their circumstances.
Appropriate documentation may include:
- a letter from a professional who provides support services to the household (for example, a doctor, nurse, personal care worker or social worker) to verify caregiving
- This document must describe how the person’s caregiving responsibilities affect their ability to participate in Ontario Works employment assistance activities
- The document may not be completed by the person being cared for or another family member
- a letter from a qualified health professional (e.g. to verify injury, illness or disability):
- Physician registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
- a Registered Nurse or Nurse Practitioner registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario
- a Registered Dietitian registered with the College of Dietitians of Ontario
- a Registered Midwife registered with the College of Midwives of Ontario
- a Traditional Indigenous Midwife recognized and accredited by their Indigenous community
- a copy of the foster child care agreement
- a letter from an employer confirming employment, or pregnancy/parental leave from employment
- a letter from the school or training program to confirm that the person is registered full-time
Non-disabled adults who are not referred to Ontario Works (i.e., meet the criteria for waiver or deferral) may still choose to participate in Ontario Works employment assistance activities on a voluntary basis. They should be advised of the opportunities available to them. Non-disabled adults who are not referred to Ontario Works but participate voluntarily are not subject to consequences for non-compliance.
Review of temporary waiver
Generally, a referral will be waived or deferred on a temporary basis. If referral is temporarily waived or deferred, the case is brought forward for review at an appropriate time.
Non-disabled adults are required to provide information regarding new or changed circumstances, including those related to the reason for temporary waiver or deferral if such circumstances change.
In exceptional circumstances, a referral can be waived indefinitely.
Non-compliance with participation requirements
If, in the opinion of the Ontario Works Administrator, a non-disabled adult referred by ODSP refuses or fails to make reasonable efforts to meet their participation requirements, the Ontario Works delivery agent will notify the ODSP local office and provide supporting documentation.
The ODSP local office is responsible for making a decision regarding eligibility. If a non-disabled adult does not comply with the Ontario Works participation requirements, without reasonable grounds, the ODSP income support issued to the recipient on behalf of the non-disabled adult is reduced. ODSP income support is reduced for a period of 1 month, or for 3 months if ODSP income support or OW financial assistance was previously reduced because the person did not comply with requirements in the past.
A drug card can continue to be issued to a non-disabled adult who has been removed from a recipient’s benefit unit if they have a serious illness or health condition and if they would otherwise be financially eligible for Income Support.