Ontario fights lawsuit over disability support program
A class-action lawsuit filed against Ontario on behalf of disabled people seeking government support should be thrown out, government lawyers will argue in court this week.
The lawsuit, which must still be certified to proceed, was launched last year on behalf of all applicants to the Ontario Disability Support Program, which currently provides about $1,000 a month to 177,000 Ontario residents who can't work because of a severe disability.
Lawyers for the applicants say the process is too confusing and takes too long, and are seeking retroactive benefits.
Government lawyersare trying to stop the case with a motion that will be before the province's Superior Court of Justiceon Thursday.
The government argues in court documents that government policy is immune from lawsuits and that individuals cannot sue because legislation governing disability benefits covers the publicas a whole.
Marc Despatie, a spokesman for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, would not comment on the court case. But he said since the end of last year, applications have been processed within 90 business days.
"The backlog on ODSP applications was a serious problem," he said. "And I'm proud to say we've eliminated that backlog."
Sarah Shartal, a lawyer for the applicants, told the CBC's Jean Carter Monday that on average, with no appeals, an application takes eight to 18 months.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, at least one woman had been waiting two years for her application to go through. Rena Anogstrawa told CBC this week that her case has just been approved and she expects to receive roughly four years of retroactive benefits.