Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thoughts on the South Coast Shuttle

(Following is a sequence of numbered tweets that was posted on twitter.  I've posted it here as the twitter feed may not have worked for everyone/anyone.) 

1. Some thoughts on the South Coast Shuttle.  The shuttle operated this summer in #NorfolkCounty.  Follow our numbered tweets

2. Operating on Erie’s north shore @10woodbb was involved in a small way as a sponsor. $250 got R name on some ads & 10 free tickets
3. The Shuttle was actually 2 buses running weekends and holiday Mondays on a longish 55 kilometre route- Port Dover to Long Point

4. The idea was to provide a safe and reliable transportation option to destinations and amenities from Port Dover to Long Point…

Normandale Inn
5. …with stops at many locations along the way: as well as 2 promote many tourism options 4 visitors & residents of Norfolk County

6.  Sorry for that bureaucratise.  It is in the staff report.  You can look it up at www.norfolkcounty.ca/ on the agenda page-Nov. 17

7. Let’s put it another way. The Shuttle was an option to the car. People could go 2 bars &; restaurants, have a drink or 2 &  not worry…

8.  ...about how to get home.  Good idea, eh?

9.  Also you could take your bike on the bus, go for a ride then take the bus home. We enjoyed the Lynn Valley Trail that way.
Lynn Valley Trail

10. OK.  You want to know, did it work?   And what did it cost hard working, abused and under loved taxpayers of #NorfolkCounty 

11. First, did it work?

12. 20 riders per day. Ridership varied dramatically but it was better than the regular Ride Norfolk ridership

13. 1/2 of the riders were from away.  1/2 were from Norfolk. Riders said drivers Bob and Linda were ‘prompt and obliging”

14. Businesses were happy: E.g. Great promotion. More customers. Locals checked out their county.  Believe it will only get better

15.  Now, what did it cost?  Nothing to local taxpayer.  Sponsors, grants, fares and Gas Tax footed the bill.

Burning Kiln Winery

16. For next year we like the idea of scheduled wait times at certain stops so riders can look around.

17. Shorter loops may be an idea to look at too.

18. Thanks to staff @NorfolkCounty particularly Brad Smith for a job well done.

Here is a video on the South Coast Shuttle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=n2RKoTrGTMY

Friday, November 06, 2015

Ontario Disability Support Program, Community Legal Clinics and Appeals

(This story appeared earlier this month in North End Breezes.  http://www.northendbreezes.com/ While the province is gradually uploading the costs of Ontario Works, municipalities continue to be impacted when those who are eligible for ODSP, but have been declined assistance, remain on Ontario Works.)

It is becoming increasingly difficult for people with disabilities who are eligible for social assistance to receive that assistance. 

“People who meet the criteria for ODSP, can’t get on it. As well, there are way too many hoops to jump through,” says Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy and Legal Services for the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC).

ODSP is the Ontario Disability Support Program. This program is designed to help people with disabilities who are in financial need pay for living expenses, like food and housing.

An important part of community legal clinic practice is ODSP casework.

While the clinics have always done this kind of work, the proportion of caseloads made up of ODSP work has changed considerably over the years.

A little history is in order.

The Old Family Benefits program was changed to ODSP by the government of Mike Harris nearly twenty years ago. 

At that point qualifying for the program became a big issue.

Let’s go back to 1997-98.  When ODSP was set up, the total ODSP caseload for Ontario clinics was 185,479.  That sounds like a lot of people, you say.  Well, not really.  By 2013 that number had escalated to 314,033.

People who apply for ODSP and are denied have an option of requesting an Internal Review.  If that request for an Internal Review is denied, the next step can be to file an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).   The Social Benefits Tribunal is an administrative body that deals specifically with appeals regarding social assistance. 

In 1997 ODSP appeals represented 14% of the total clinic practice.  These days 67% of all new cases opened in the southwest region of Ontario that our Clinic is a part of are for ODSP appeals.

This shift in clinic practice means that people who want services in other areas of law we are mandated to provide may not be able to get these services.

We’re pleased that those appeals to the SBT are twice as likely to be granted as denied.  However, these successes are an indication that reform is required.

“Too many resources are needed to get to the right decision,” says Ms. Marrone.

As a result clinics are being forced to reduce their ODSP work. 

Recently the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic developed a new resource called Getting Ready for Your SBT Hearing.  A youtube video and a handout can be found on the clinic’s website at http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/ontario-disability-support-program.php and in French at http://www.hamiltonjustice.ca/fr/posph.php