Child Support Will No Longer Reduce Social Assistance Payments

In a recent news release, the provincial government has announced its firmed-up plans to end the clawback of child support payments from low-income Ontarians on social assistance. The change takes place in early 2017 and provides a welcome sigh of relief to the almost 19,000 families who stand to benefit.

Clawbacks Under The Current Scheme

For years, child support has been treated as income and is automatically deducted dollar-for-dollar from Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works payments. While the burden for supporting these families is lifted from taxpayers, the arrangement leaves the child support payor out of pocket while the single parent receiving the support is no better off financially once the amount is clawed back from the social assistance allowance.

Further, if child support payments exceed social assistance payments, the receiving parent no longer qualifies for social assistance - a situation that can quickly turn precarious if the child support payor misses a payment, makes a late payment or turns out to be a total deadbeat.

Changes To Take Place In 2017

Once the new rules take place next January 1 for ODSP and February 1 for Ontario Works, recipients will be allowed to keep both their child support payments and social assistance payments. The arrangement will put an average increase of $282 per month into the hands of affected families, totalling over $75 million in injected income as a whole.

Clients will also no longer face pursuing child support as a pre-condition of eligibility for receiving social assistance. This will help end the emotional distress and financial toll on applicants who have thus far been forced to make a court application for child support before they can even begin the process of seeking social assistance.

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