TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Feb. 18, 2010) – Ontario’s Social Benefits Tribunal has sent a clear message to the Ontario government and municipal social services administrators that their practices are out of step with the law.
In a January 6th decision, the Tribunal supported the appeal of a grandmother in Oshawa, Ont., whose Temporary Care Allowance had been cancelled. The grandmother had been receiving benefits since 1999 when her grandson came into her care, and they were cut off in November 2008 by Ontario Works. The benefits included $230 per month and a drug and dental card. These supports are not available to most grandparents taking care of their grandchildren. The Appellant was represented at the Tribunal by Douglas Stewart, a lawyer with Fraser Milner Casgrain, through a Pro Bono Law Ontario initiative.
Advocates are hailing the decision, the first to favour an Appellant since the introduction of Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) policy directives in 2008 that significantly narrowed the scope of eligibility for these benefits and thereby penalized grandparents who stepped up to take care of their children.
“The Temporary Care Allowance was meant to address a pressing need – to allow other family members to look after children when their parents cannot. The flawed interpretation of the guidelines undermined the intent of the program and had the effect of cutting off the very people the program was meant for and who most needed the allowance,” said Susan Eng, Vice President of Advocacy. CARP.
“The Temporary Care Allowance is a critical part of the social safety net and should continue to be provided by Ontario Works. Grandparents should not be forced to approach Children’s Aid Societies for the sole purpose of receiving modest financial supports or health or dental treatment,” said Virginia Rowden, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.
Pro Bono Law Ontario has been advocating for the rights of children in grandparent-led families. “This decision is a great result for the family and potentially all grandparents facing similar challenges,” said Douglas Stewart, a lawyer at Fraser Milner Casgrain’s Toronto office. “The result also highlights the positive changes that flow from pro bono initiatives and the partnership between Pro Bono Law Ontario and participating firms like Fraser Milner Casgrain.”
About Pro Bono Law Ontario
Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) is a charitable organization that promotes access to justice in Ontario by creating and promoting opportunities for lawyers to provide pro bono (free) legal services to persons of limited means. For details, visit www.pblo.org.
About Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP
For 170 years, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP has distinguished itself as one of Canada’s leading business and litigation law firms. With more than 500 lawyers in Canadian offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, FMC offers the essential depth of experience and trusted legal advice to anticipate clients’ needs and help them succeed. For details, visit www.fmc-law.com.
Keywords: caregivers, grandparents