Kitchener-Waterloo

Let people on ODSP, Ontario Works shop on Tuesday, urges Guelph social worker

A Guelph social worker is asking the public to keep the store shelves stocked for people who get Ontario Works and Ontario Disability cheques on Tuesday. This will be the first influx of cash recipients since COVID-19 became a major public health concern earlier this month.

#GiveWayTuesday is a social media campaign to keep stores shelves stocked for people on OW and ODSP

Mary Cross and Lynn Broughton from Guelph are urging people not to shop today. They hope #GiveWayTuesday will leave stores open and supplies intact for ODSP and OW recipients to purchase food and supplies for the month of April. (Submitted by Mary Cross)

A Guelph social worker is asking people to avoid shopping on Tuesday in an effort to keep store shelves stocked for people who receive Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) cheques. 

Mary Cross and her friend Lynn Broughton have launched a social media campaign called #GiveWayTuesday. 

Cross says Tuesday will be the first time in a month that people on Ontario Works and ODSP will receive their monthly cheques and can go shopping for food and supplies.

"They'll be going to the stores for the first time to get all those essentials like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and stocking up on canned goods and cleaning supplies," said Cross.

"Can you imagine if it was you and you haven't been able to shop all month and there's nothing there because people have taken it all?"

Cross, who is a therapist in Guelph with her own independent practice, suggests most people can leave the shopping until Wednesday. 

The self-described community activist says she knows people on ODSP who have not been able to shop since the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in Guelph.

She says she was also upset to hear the Ontario government did not offer financial incentives for people on Ontario Works and ODSP.

"[ODSP recipients are] one of the only groups it seems who have not had their money bumped up by the Ontario government," Cross said.

In addition, she said, they are more likely to feel isolated. 

"People on disability, some of them have lost their support systems over the last little while. They don't have people coming in their homes to help them like they did before because of COVID-19."  

On March 23, Ontario announced $200 million in social services relief funding to help people ineligible for federal funding but need help with rent, the cost of prescriptions or other essentials. The province specifically said people on ODSP or Ontario Works were not eligible. 

However it did say additional resources were being made available to people who receive Ontario Works and ODSP who need help paying for "a broad range of needs — including cleaning supplies, transportation, food or clothing." To take advantage of that money, people would need to get in touch with their caseworkers.

The amount a person gets from ODSP varies according to their living situation. A chart produced by the Income Security Advocacy Centre shows as of October 2018, a single person receives $1,169 a month from ODSP while a couple with two children can receive $2,121. A portion is allotted for shelter and the rest for basic needs.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said a single person on ODSP receives approximately $1,400 a month. In fact they receive $1,169.
    Mar 31, 2020 11:59 AM ET

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