Changes to Social Assistance

ODSP and the New Medical Review Process

In March 2016, the Ministry of Community and Social Services began working with external stakeholders and advocates to design a new and simpler medical review process and form. The purpose of medical reviews is to ensure that clients are still eligible for ODSP benefits. Currently, medical review dates are assigned to about 36 per cent of ODSP cases.

In the past, health care practitioners would have to fill out a medical review form that was almost identical to the medical form that they initially filled out for the client when first applying for ODSP. Health care practitioners were also not provided with the original reasons the client was found eligible for ODSP. This would often lead to errors and discrepancies, resulting in eligible clients being cut off of ODSP benefits.

The new medical review form aims to simply the process and ensure that eligible clients continue to receive ODSP benefits. The new form will consist of two parts. In the first part, the client’s health care professional will need to indicate whether the client’s medical condition, impairments and restrictions have improved or not. If there has been no improvement, then the second part of the form does not need to be completed. However, if there have been changes, the health care professional will need to provide additional medical information in the second part of the form.

Clients will also be provided with the reasons they were originally found to be eligible for ODSP to give to their health care practitioner to complete the medical review form to minimize errors.

The new medical review form is meant to make the process more fair and efficient, and prevent a re-adjudication of the original eligibility finding. It is anticipated that the new medical review process will be implemented by Fall of 2016.

The new medical review process is part of the Ministry’s efforts to improve quality assurance. The Ministry has already implemented new quality assurance mechanisms to ensure that process is more fair, responsible and efficient. These mechanisms include:

  • A new step in the process which requires that all medical review files are re-examined before a notification letter is sent to the client.
  • More attempts made to contact the client regarding their medical review including three separate letters and two telephone calls.
  • Increased medical training and education of adjudicators and staff.
  • Simplifying communication materials regarding medical reviews to make them easier for the client to understand.

No Claw back of new Canada Child Benefit

The new Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will start paying to low and middle income famillies in July 2016.

Ontario became the first province in Canada to confirm that no clawbacks will be made to social assistance benefti as a result of the CCB

A new group of people are now eligible for ODSP

As of September 1, 2016 adults eligible for developmental services and supports qualify for ODSP income support without having to prove that they are medically eligible. This change will cover anyone eligible for services under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 (SIPDDA), including:

  • persons living in the community as a renter, owner or a tenant;
  • residents of an intensive support residence as defined under the SIPDDA; and
  • residents of a supported group living resi-dence as defined under the SIPDDA.

Where an applicant is living in an intensive support or supported group living residence, proof of address will be sufficient to establish eligibility. Applicants who are living in the community will be required to provide a letter from their Develop-mental Services Ontario office.  Members of the new prescribed class have been added to the list of persons who may qualify for double-disabled rates under s. 30(1)1 as a spouse or common-law spouse.

New rules on Tips and Gratuitie

On June 10, 2016, the Protecting Employees’ Tips Act, 2015 came into force amending the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to create rules around the handling of tips and other gratuities in the workplacewhere tips and gratuities are received – such as at bars, restaurants, hair and nail salons, catering firms and taxis.

Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), a “tip or other gratuity” is:

  • a payment voluntarily made or left by a customer to an employee
  • a payment voluntarily made or left by a customer to the employer for employees
  • a payment of a service or similar charge imposed by the employer

where a reasonable person would believe that the payment would be kept by an employee or shared amongst employees. Examples of tips and other gratuities include:

  • payment given to an employee by a customer for a service in any form, including cash or other electronic payments such as debit or credit card
  • service charges at banquet halls or other establishments that are meant for employees

If service charges are being included on invoices, banquet hall rental agreements, etc., employers should be explicit about who and what that money is intended for (e.g., tips for servers or facilities charges). Otherwise, the whole amount of the service charge may be considered to be tips and other gratuities that were intended for employees.

Employers can decide if tipping is allowed in their businesses. If tipping is not allowed, the employer should make it clear to his or her customers that tips and other gratuities will not be accepted by employees or the employer.

When and how does an employer have to pay out tips and other gratuities to his or her employees?

There is no requirement for employers to establish a regular period for paying out tips and other gratuities to their staff. However, it is a good idea for employers to establish and stick to a regular period for paying out tips and other gratuities.

Employers are required to distribute tips and other gratuities to employees in cash, cheque or direct deposit.

How should tips and other gratuities be tracked?

Employers should:

  • establish a clear policy for the handling of tips (e.g, how tip jars will be divided, when and how tips paid electronically will be paid out to employees)
  • post the policy in the workplace where employees can see it
    track tips and other gratuities paid by electronic methods and the amount given to employees

Employees should also track the tips they receive, including amounts received from a tip pool and how much they pay into tip pools. A number of downloadable mobile apps are available to help track tips and other

Are employers entitled to a portion of their employees’ tips and other gratuities?

As of June 10, 2016, employers generally cannot withhold, make deductions from, or make employees return their tips and other gratuities to the employer.  Employer is prohibited from withholding or making deductions from his or her employees’ tips and other gratuities to compensate for such things as spillage, breakage, losses or damage, etc.

Employers are allowed to keep the tips and other gratuities that they receive themselves.

An employee’s right to keep tips and other gratuities, except in limited circumstances, is an employment standard. An employee cannot contract out of or waive this standard, even if the employee agrees to do so in writing or verbally.

For example, an employee cannot agree to:

  • give the employer all of his or her tips and other gratuities in exchange for a higher rate of pay
  • waive the right to minimum wage in exchange for keeping all or a higher percentage of his or her tips
  • give the employer a certain percentage of his or her tips to cover spillage, breakage, losses or damage, etc.

Employers are allowed to withhold, make deductions from, or make an employee return tips and other gratuities if they are:

  • required by law or court order, or
  • administering a tip pool

What is a tip pool?

A tip pool is a collection of employees’ tips that is redistributed among some or all of the employer’s employees. This includes tip-outs, which are payments from one employee to other employees because it is required by their employer’s policy.

An employer may withhold, make a deduction or require an employee to give them a portion of their tips and other gratuities if the amount that is collected will be redistributed as part of a tip pool.  There is no requirement on tip pool arrangement in the workplace. Employers can decide if there will be a tip pooling arrangement in the workplace, including who will participate in a tip pool and how it will be distributed (e.g., the amount received by employees, when and how shares will be distributed, and how and when to vary or change the arrangement, etc.).

Minimum Wage increase

Minimum Wage Rate

Rates from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016

Current Rates as of October 1, 2016

General Minimum Wage

$11.25
per hour

$11.40
per hour

Student Minimum Wage

$10.55
per hour

$10.70
per hour

Liquor Servers Minimum Wage

$9.80
per hour

$9.90
per hour

Homeworkers Wage

$12.40
per hour

$12.55 per hour