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Connecting Ottawa Communique


Connecting Ottawa Communique
4 mai 2022

We are pleased to provide this information for front-line workers to support the information and referral needs of clients. Education sessions that may be of interest to workers are listed first followed by information and updates on services and programs relevant to clients who have a communication barrier due to language or sensory disability. Please feel free to share this email widely among your networks.

Upcoming Connecting Ottawa education sessions:

Tips for supporting a client who has an LTB hearing – May 19

Date:  Tuesday, May 19, 2022 (in conjunction with Reach Canada)
Time:  12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
Speaker:  Melissa Bramson, CLSO Via zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88603377804?pwd=Qm5wdzF4c0U1Ry9kUVNiQ016VXJZdz09
Meeting ID: 886 0337 7804
Passcode: 741495This session will discuss the LTB online hearing process and how front-line workers can support clients, including clients with disabilities, with the process.

Upcoming sessions (Watch this Communique for more information)
* Modernization of Social Assistance in Ontario (May, 2022)
* Consumer Rights and Contracts (June, 2022)
* Social Security Tribunal — What is it? How it works (June, 2022)

Provincial Election, June 2, 2022
The Ontario provincial election has been called for June 2, 2022.  To be eligible to vote individuals must be 18 years or older, a Canadian citizen and a resident of Ontario.  Individuals who are absent from the province, but plan to return, can vote via absentee ballot.  Information on how to register as a voter is available at: https://www.elections.on.ca/en/voting-in-ontario/voter-registration.html
Reach Canada is presenting an education session on March 5 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the supports available to facilitate voting for people with disabilities.  To register, visit: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrc–qrjMvGtWihAZra7dtoCfWL8p-VYc4

IRCC extension of policy to allow certain spouses and children not initially declared and examined to be sponsored
Individuals who arrive in Canada as permanent residents or who apply for permanent residence from inside Canada are required to declare all their immediate family members on their application. This means they must list their spouse or common-law partner and dependent children on their own permanent residence forms. Those family members must undergo a medical exam, even if they are not themselves immigrating to Canada. If an individual applying for permanent residence fails to have an immediate family member examined, this results in a lifetime ban on sponsoring that family member. For example, if someone is granted refugee status in Canada and applies for permanent residence but their spouse abroad lives in a war zone and cannot  undergo their immigration medical exam, that spouse could never be sponsored. Likewise, if an individual does not mention their child on their own permanent residence application because of the stigma associated with giving birth outside of marriage, that child can never be sponsored.

In order to address some of these scenarios, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) developed a policy that permits certain individuals to now sponsor their spouse, partner or dependent children who they had failed to declare on their own permanent residence application and failed to have medically examined. The policy was set to expire in 2021. Fortunately, the policy will now be in effect until September 2023 which means more families will benefit. This means that, during that period, many individuals will be able to sponsor family members who they could not previously sponsor because of their failure to declare these family members on their own application and have them medically examined.

This policy will apply to situations where an individual in Canada is sponsoring their spouse, common-law partner or dependent children from abroad or sponsoring their spouse or common-law partner from inside Canada.  The sponsor must have gained permanent residence as a resettled refugee, a protected person (such as someone granted refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee board), or a sponsored spouse or partner. The policy does not apply if the person being sponsored, if declared and examined at the time their sponsor immigrated to Canada, would have made their sponsor ineligible in the class under which the sponsor applied. For example, an individual cannot use this public policy to now sponsor a spouse who they failed to declare on their own permanent residence application because they were married to two people at once or if they failed to declare a spouse so that they could  immigrate to Canada as their parents’ dependent child. In addition, individuals who obtained permanent residence through an economic class or who were granted permanent residence inside Canada on humanitarian grounds cannot use the public policy to sponsor a spouse, partner or children they failed to declare and have examined. See full details at: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/permanent-residence/non-economic-classes/family-class-spouse/pilot-exempt-r117-r125.html

We understand that eligiblity for this policy can be confusing.  If you have questions about the policy or a particular case, feel free to contact info@connectingottawa.com for assistance.

Information from Refugee 613 special stakeholder meeting on Ukraine
On April 19, 2022, Refugee 613 held a special stakeholder meeting on Ukraine, bringing together more than 40 organizations to discuss local support available for Ukrainian migrants to Ottawa.  Information from the meeting including information regarding emergency benefits, eligibility and how to apply is available in both English and French at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1GDNEcb9worS_sNUirSanhyT2cZLz0ny2

Last day to apply for Period 19 of Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB)
Period 19 (February 27 to March 5, 2022) was the last period the CWLB was available for individuals in Ontario. Eligible claimants could apply for any one-week period for up to 60 days after that period ended. NoteMay 4, 2022, at 11:59 pm, is the last day a person can apply retroactively for period 19. Please encourage clients who applied for the CWLB to file tax returns for the years in which they receive(d) this benefit in order to avoid an overpayment. For more information on the CWLB and other federal and provincial income supports, please visit: Connecting Ottawa Resources – Connecting Ottawa.
 
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) end May 7, 2022
The CRCB and the CRSB end on May 7, 2022. Eligible claimants can still apply for any 1-week period for up to 60 days after that period has ended. The federal government has not indicated that they will extend these benefits past May 7, 2022. For more information on the CRCB and CRSB, please visit: Connecting Ottawa Resources – Connecting Ottawa

COVID-19 Provincial Paid Sick Leave – Worker Income Protection Benefit program still available until July 31, 2022
On April 29, 2021, the Government of Ontario amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for certain reasons related to COVID-19. This entitlement is in addition to employees’ rights to unpaid Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, and is available until July 31, 2022. Although the Worker Income Protection Benefit is still available in 2022, employees are not entitled to an additional three days in 2022. Therefore, some employees may have already used up some, or all, of their entitlement to this benefit by now. We encourage you to refer to Connecting Ottawa’s information sheet on this benefit: PROVINCIAL-PAID-SICK-LEAVE_January-4-2022.pdf (connectingottawa.com)

Back payment for seniors who lost their Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) due to receiving pandemic benefits
In April, a one-time grant was paid to seniors who lost their GIS due to receiving pandemic benefits, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, CRSB, and CRCB. The federal government created a webpage with more information on this one-time payment: One-time grant for Guaranteed Income Supplement recipients who received pandemic benefits – Canada.ca.The link says that « the one-time grant will be equal to the total 12-month reduction or loss. » This means the one-time payment covers the lost GIS for 12 months, however, seniors will continue to receive regular « reduced » payments at the end of April, May, and June just before re-calculation for the next fiscal year in July. This lump sum is non-taxable and non-reportable, so recipients will not receive a T4 slip and do not have to report this income on their tax returns. Note: The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services have confirmed that these federal payments should not be treated as income for the purpose of social assistance. If your clients have not received this lump sum by the end of the month, we encourage them to call Service Canada to ask what is going on. 

Ontario Ministry of Finance not reassessing Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments similar to federal government’s review of GIS
The Ontario Ministry of Finance confirmed they will not be reassessing GAINS payments for the 2021/2022 year. However, the one-time lump sum federal GIS payment noted above is not expected to impact GAINS eligibility moving forward.

Amount increasing for Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD)
The maximum monthly ACSD payment will go from $500 to $550, effective July 1, 2022. This is the first ACSD increase since 2018. ACSD provides funds to assist with the extraordinary costs of caring for children with severe disabilities. Applicants may qualify for ACSD even if they do not qualify financially for Ontario Disability Support Program income support. For more information on ACSD, eligibility criteria, and temporary changes to the processing of disability-related expenses due to Covid-19, please visit: Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program | ontario.ca.

Extended Health Benefits (EHB) expanded to cover « Better Jobs for Ontario » participants
The Better Jobs Ontario program (what was once known as the Second Career Program) is intended for unemployed individuals with skills training to help them find employment. The new enhanced program will provide up to $28,000 in tuition and other costs for short-duration training programs, including a basic living allowance of up to $500/week. Ontario Works (OW)  and ODSP recipients who become financially ineligible due to income received from the Better Jobs Ontario program will still qualify for EHB coverage. EHB coverage would begin on the day the person ceased to qualify for OW or ODSP and end when they received the last payment from the Better Jobs Ontario program or returned to OW or ODSP. Furthermore, benefit units that are eligible for EHB because of participation in the Better Jobs Ontario program do not have to meet other OW or ODSP eligibility criteria, such as asset limits. For more information on the Better Jobs Ontario program, including eligibility criteria, please visit: Better Jobs Ontario | Ontario.ca.

Micro-credential participants eligible for OSAP and social assistance not affected
Micro-credentials are rapid training programs offered by postsecondary education institutions across the province. Micro-credential participants are eligible for OSAP funding, including a $5/hour education allowance. Ontario Works and ODSP recipients (including singles) can receive OSAP for micro-credential training and their social assistance will not be impacted because it is fully exempt as income and assets.  Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Rights and Responsibilities forms have been updated to reflect this eligibility. See changes made to OW Form 1107 and ODSP Form 2865.

Opting out of paperless communications on MyBenefits app
As a reminder, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services is encouraging social assistance recipients to download and use the MyBenefits app to communicate with caseworkers, receive letters, etc. The default setting on the app is automatically set to paperless correspondence. However, individuals can opt out of paperless communication and receive correspondence from Ontario Works or ODSP by mail. For instructions on how to opt out of paperless communications by changing the default setting see: https://connectingottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/MyBenefits-Paper-Opt-MInistry-screen-caps.pdf. Thanks to North Peel and Dufferin Community Legal Services for making this information available to share with your clients!

Individuals who are marginally-housed or homeless eligible for fee waiver for replacement birth certificate

The Ontario government is permanently eliminating the $35 fee for birth certificates for Ontarians who are marginally housed or homeless. The Birth Certificate Fee Waiver Program will be available through eligible not-for-profit partner organizations. For more information on this program, please refer to the attached documents from Service Ontario:English: https://connectingottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Fact-Sheet_SO-Fee-Waiver_Homeless_Marg-Housed_Apr2022.pdfFrench: https://connectingottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Fact-Sheet_SO-Fee-Waiver_Homeless_Marg-Housed_Apr2022_FR.pdf

Free computers for clients
Digital Equity Ottawa, the Social Planning Council of Ottawa (SPCO), the City of Ottawa, and other social service provider agencies are teaming up to distribute free refurbished computers to the community. If your client is in need of a computer(s) and/or technical support, submit a request at:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfBJqzV9N9MhEG7BPW8Q8sSKC57uxfrXykQzIpeEoPbl7-YdQ/viewform?fbclid=IwAR0B5iFnFULceUDn2HKdr3QP3hhWk9c_IIBd0gy_9rD54zxJVLLPz9WhvRU

Ontario Energy Group (OEG) Class Action Settlement
If you are or were at any time party to a Lease Agreement for Equipment with OEG entered into between May 1, 2012 and December 31, 2016, you may be eligible for benefits from the OEG Class Action Settlement. Many eligible class members will receive a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN) by regular letter mail. PINs were created using information and records that were provided to the Claims Administrator by the defendants. This PIN can be entered on the claims website, and can help class members support their claims by pre-populating claims forms with some information. Class members have until August 8, 2022 to submit their claims.

Hoarding Conference
Reach Canada will be hosting the “Reach 2022 Hoarding Conference: Increasing Awareness, Legal Challenges and Community Collaboration Presented by Meridian Credit Union”. The conference aims to increase awareness of hoarding, provide practical tips and resources to support those experiencing hoarding behaviors, address legal challenges related to hoarding, and improve community collaboration around these difficult situations. This event is a three-part conference series being held virtually on May 10, June1, and June 15.  For more details, please visit Reach 2022 Hoarding Conference: Increasing Awareness, Legal Challenges and Community Collaboration Presented by Meridian Credit Union

OCDSB registration for summer school opens May 2, 2022
Registration opened on Monday, May 2 for 2022 Summer School Programs for students in Grades 6-8. Two non credit programs are available for OCDSB students currently in Grades 6-8, as well as some Reach Ahead Credit courses for Grade 8 students entering Grade 9. The deadline to register is June 17, 2022. To register, visit: https://www.ocdsb.ca/cms/one.aspx?portalId=55478&pageId=179003

New report on the impact of Covid-19 on access to justice in family law and poverty law matters
The ad hoc Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Measuring the Impact of COVID-19 on Access to Justice in Family and Poverty Law Matters recently released the report Measuring What Matters. The report examines the impact the pandemic has had on various aspects of life, including income support.

New report from the Workers’ Action Centre, From the frontlines: An urgent agenda for decent work
The Workers’ Action Centre’s new report,  From the frontlines: An urgent agenda for decent work is now available. This new report draws directly from the leadership and experience of workers on the frontlines in low-wage and precarious jobs.

Webinar examining Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)
On March 29, 2022 Tribunal Watch Ontario and University of Ottawa Public Law Centre hosted a panel discussion with legal experts representing applicants and respondents as well as academia to examine the HRTO.  The recording “The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: What went wrong, who is affected, and what can be done?” is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkNIuKQsLdw

Connect with us …
Connecting Ottawa is available to support front-line workers in Ottawa to provide appropriate legal information and referrals to clients with  communication barriers as a result of language or sensory disability. If you have a question or require a consultation, please send it to info@connectingottawa.com along with an Intake Form: https://connectingottawa.com/request-for-information-consultation/.  This will ensure the most efficient response to your request.  As a reminder, we do not provide direct legal services to individuals