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Making the most with what you got April 25 2022

Greetings and welcome to the fourth installment of societal betterment.

Today I want to focus on maximizing available resources. Last summer I had the pleasure of working with an intern student through the Osgoode Student Internship Project (OSIP). Because of the various human rights initiatives we are working on this was a good fit. We are conducting research necessary to launch a challenge to s.21(1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code

The provision states:

21 (1) The right under section 2 to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of residential accommodation without discrimination is not infringed by discrimination where the residential accommodation is in a dwelling in which the owner or his or her family reside if the occupant or occupants of the residential accommodation are required to share a bathroom or kitchen facility with the owner or family of the owner. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 21 (1).

To sum up this provision it allows landlords to discriminate against someone, if the landlord, or a family member of the landlord, is sharing the kitchen or bathroom with the tenant. The landlord can discriminate for any reason, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, to name a few. The law does not allow this kind of discrimination in other rental situations and it is prohibited in every commercial transaction I am aware of.

Because shared accommodations are usually more affordable this form of housing remains critical for many people who collect Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits as their main source of income. Exclusion from shared accommodations adds insult to injury as individuals with precariously low incomes are now prevented from accessing the most affordable form of housing. We are interested in finding out what amount of shared housing is shared with the landlord. This might break down into situations where it is genuinely shared, and situations where the appearance of sharing the kitchen or bathroom is done specifically to circumvent legislation that would otherwise be valid, but for the landlord’s status of sharing.

We are in the early stages of preparing this challenge and it is important for us to make sure the evidentiary record supports our claims. It is important for those who don’t have a lot to be able to make what they do have go a little further.

On that note, we also worked at bringing together a list of resources that are available to people with low income. These resources are often difficult to find. I want to do my part to raise awareness of all available programs. These resources can help you make the most of available benefits. On the publications tab of my website you will find the “Extra Provincial Benefits” There is a file for each province and a separate file for Federal programs.

Taking the time to read these files might reveal a program you didn’t already know about that can help you financially.

This is not an exhaustive list by all means.

One thing we learned through the time spent on the project was how much time it takes to research available programs and find out what is available. As the programs change frequently some programs may no longer be available, and doubtless others will be created before the report is even published. To really make the most of our report, I recommend using it as a spring board to investigate available programs. First find out if the program is available in your area and if you qualify, but if not then look on Google to find out if there is something else in place. You will need to rely on internet research to get reliable, up to date information about programs. Keep in mind the date of this report is 2021 and should be viewed in that light. New programs and programs changes occurring in late 2021 or after may not be reflected in the report.

The report is intended as a tool to help low income individuals but perhaps the most useful tool I can leave you with is the importance of time management. I could never create a complete list of everything available. By the time it was done new things would have already been created, and existing programs would be defunct. There is an endless amount of information out there. Some of it is relevant, a lot of it is junk. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff can be a full time job. Make time for the process without letting it consume you altogether. Sitting down for an hour or 2 once a month will go a lot further than spending 20 hours during one month of the year and then not looking again for a year or more. If it starts feeling like you are doing a lot of work without getting any results, start tracking the time you are spending. Cut it down to 4 hours or fewer in a week. After 6 months you can do a comparison of the time you have spent – about 80-100 hours, and the benefits obtained through active engagement. If the ratio seems off then you can look at the activities that did produce results and compare them with endeavors that seemed less worthwhile. If you can identify what it is that makes those two things different then you can start eliminating things that are not successful and do more of the things that are successful.

This approach will help you bring balance to the time you are spending on maximizing your options and allow you to make the most out of your time, happiness and well-being.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

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