The Carlington Summit
by Sonia Levesque Parsons.
Community Legal Worker.
West End Legal Services.

Did you know:

* The Federal Government introduced the National Child Benefit Supplement several years ago in an effort to fight child poverty. This is a supplement given in addition to the Child Tax Credit (formerly the baby bonus) to low income families. If a person is in receipt of social assistance (welfare or disability), part of this supplement is deducted off the cheque because this is considered income. Therefore, children on social assistance cannot benefit from this supplement which was created to help them in the first place. Children whose parents are on welfare still go to school hungry, etc...

Did you know:

* While receiving social assistance (welfare or disability), a person cannot borrow ANY money from any source. It will be considered income and deducted dollar for dollar of a social assistance cheque. Therefore, because a person is on social assistance, a loan is repaid twice. If the person is short on his or her rent because the kids got sick that month and they spent the money on gas and medicine not covered by the drug card, borrowing money will only result in a reduction. No other group in society who borrows money is faced with the double jeopardy of being penalized and having to repay a loan.

Did you know:

* That if a person is having problems making ends meet while on assistance and he or she sells a toaster or any other belonging, any money made from that sale will be deducted off the assistance cheque.

Did you know:

* That if a single parent is on social assistance, he or she cannot meet someone and begin living together without consequences. The minute a man (statistically, women are penalized by this rule) decides to share accommodation, they are considered spouses and the man has an obligation to support the woman and her children. Even the income tax laws allow individuals to live with someone for 12 months before any common-law status takes effect. However, on social assistance, there is no grace period. Very few men will agree to be involved with a single mom because of these consequences.

Did you know:

* That an adult who has not worked for more than 2 years, received Ontario Student Assistance Program loans or deemed disabled, and resides with his or her parents, is not entitled to assistance in his or her own right. Even if he or she has met the above criteria, he or she is not entitled to rent assistance. So if the parents are low income, the adult child cannot pay them rent while living with them.

Did you know:

* That any decision made by a social assistance office (welfare or disability) can be appealed. The first level is an Internal Review request and very few of the decisions are overturned. The decisions are reviewed by a person in the same office as the person who made the first decision. There is no right of appeal to a Tribunal until this bureaucratic process has been complied with.

* That the deadlines imposed for filing this Internal Review is very rigid. If the person is illiterate or has a psychiatric disability, he or she may loose any right of appeal available because the process is too complicated and filled with deadlines to meet.

Did you know:

* That if a person just lost a job and has to apply for assistance while waiting for Employment Insurance, a lien is put on their house (if they own). Anyone who owns a home will need to sign a Consent to Lien Application. But because they own their home, not only to they have to pay back any “shelter” money given to them but all food money as well when the home is sold . The lien may create problems if one wishes to refinance.

Did you know:

* That even if a doctor says a person cannot work and the person has a severe medical condition, he or she may not be accepted for disability!

It is a myth that people on social assistance are there because they want to. Many are forced by lay-offs, disease and other reasons to rely on welfare. Also, Ottawa's shortage in housing makes it very difficult for a single person receiving $520.00 monthly to find proper accommodation and buy food.

If you have questions about the information in this article, or on any other area of law, please contact your nearest community legal clinic. For residents west of Holland and Fisher Avenues, please contact West End Legal Services at 596-1641.