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The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario
John Stapleton

Canada’s disability income expenditures are rising at an unsustainable rate and the largest and fastest growing program is social assistance. Nowhere is this more evident than in Ontario where ODSP expenditures increased 44.8% between 2005 and 2010.

The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario: What are the factors causing this trend? by Metcalf Innovation Fellow John Stapleton, provides critical insight into the intricate drivers behind the alarming rise of disability income expenditures.

Drawing on new data and original research, Stapleton reviews the eight disability income support programs available to Ontarians, including recent changes to their eligibility and entitlement. He makes a strong case for the profound effect that changes in the labour market are having on the ability of individuals to qualify for and access programs.

The report suggests that for many people with disabilities, ODSP is the only program able to provide the level of financial support and employment incentives they need to stabilize their circumstances and find a way to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Stapleton examines regional similarities and differences, illustrates the complexity of our disability support systems, and calls for reform through careful consideration of the whole system and all levels of government, private and non-profit sectors.

Related Documents

Related Materials & Media Coverage

Disabled in Ontario increasingly forced onto welfare
The Toronto Star, Laurie Monsebraaten
December 13, 2013

McMaster centre to study disability and work
The Toronto Star, Laurie Monsebraaten
February 4, 2014


Launch Event

There will be a public presentation and panel discussion on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 2pm. John Stapleton and Metcalf President & CEO Sandy Houston will moderate a panel that includes:

  • Mike Creek, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Working for Change; and
  • Dr. Ellen MacEachen, Senior Scientist at the Institute for Work & Health, University of Toronto.

This is a free event, but as space is limited please RSVP at

Download Presentation Slides

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