Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How 'there's a new rule' broke me

By Louise Kinross

Hoops. This is another story about the unnecessary hoops people with disabilities and their families are forced to jump through to get government supports.

A year ago I wrote about the nonsensical, make-work project the Ontario Disability Support Program puts families through to get NEW documentation for long-term disabilities.

At the time, I’d learned that we could get our son’s hearing aid batteries covered through the program.

However, ODSP first required us to take our son to see our family doctor, to get that doctor to write a note saying he had hearing loss.

A family doctor cannot diagnose hearing loss. Only a regulated audiologist can. 

But ODSP would not accept 20 years’ worth of audiology reports documenting my son’s permanent hearing loss.

Instead, ODSP insisted that my husband and son take a morning off to go to the family doctor, to ask the family doctor to write a note saying my son had hearing loss.  

Then—wait for it—ODSP required my husband to hand-deliver the doctor’s note to the distant ODSP office. The government would not accept a faxed or scanned copy of the letter from the doctor’s office.

I had almost forgotten this outrageous and unnecessary run-around.


That's when I called our hearing aid provider to tell them we needed a refill on my son’s hearing aid batteries.

These are the batteries approved for coverage by the ODSP. How difficult could this task be?

"I'm afraid there's a new rule," the provider said. 

Heart drop. Why did I even entertain the idea that I could accomplish this task with one call?

"We used to be able to e-mail a request for the batteries to ODSP," she continued. "But now ODSP stipulates that we e-mail the request to the family, and the family needs to physically take the paper request to their ODSP worker for approval."

What? What?

We are ALREADY approved for the batteries.

The "request" that I could drive over to the ODSP office is the same one that the hearing aid provider could e-mail.

Why must I take time off from work to take a piece of paper to the far-away ODSP office for an item that has already been approved, for a disability that has been documented for over 20 years? A disability that doesn’t change over time (unless it gets worse).

Why must an adult with a disability, and possibly a mobility problem, have to take time from their day to go to an ODSP office to get an item covered that has already been approved?

Why are we wasting the time of people with disabilities, their families and family doctors, as well as the time of the ODSP worker who has to entertain these visits, rather than accepting documentation from an audiologist that a person has a hearing loss?


Then, the provider added: "Just so you know, even if you take this sheet of paper over to the ODSP worker, it may not be approved right away."

That's when I reached breaking point.

Why do I need to get an in-person approval for something that is ALREADY APPROVED?

I got out my Visa card and told the provider to charge us the $50 for the hearing aid batteries and to put them in the express post.

Then, I came in to work and wrote this article. Because I want everyone to understand how a population that is already marginalized is being disadvantaged by the very government that purports to serve it. And how our dollars are being wasted.


You did exactly what the government wanted you to do. Pay for the battery. You refused to go through with the expected humiliation ritual.

This makes me sick. I am tweeting and tweeting and tweeting this. And I will tag every politician I can think of.

I had the same experience in trying to get a mouthguard for my adult dependent. I was obliged to get a written note from the FAMILY DOCTOR, even though only a DENTIST can identify the need, recommend and then craft the mouth guard. Even the FAMILY DOCTOR was very CONFUSED by the ODSP request, stating that she was NOT A DENTIST and therefore, not qualified to make the decision as to whether a mouthguard is necessary.

This is definitely discrimination on the basis of disability!

This reminds me of when I had to get the new OHIP card for our son years ago, with his photo and signature. When I called OHIP to say he could not sign his name and asked what to do, I got bounced from person to person to person. Come on people, you are OHIP!! I could not fathom their lack of policy on this, as I could not have been the first person to ever make this type of call! It took 3 visits to OHIP and 2 trips to our family doctor. Unbelievable!! If only they could walk a mile in our shoes.

That's the key: "If only they could walk a mile in our shoes." But they don't. Completely disgusting.

This is literally the story of my life with ODSP