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Doug Ford says election promise to increase disability support will be in 2022 budget

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford says fulfilling an election promise to increase payments for people with disabilities is “one of” his number one priorities.

Ford has not provided a date to fulfil the pledge.

“When we go back into the house, we will make sure that moves as quickly as possible,” Ford told reports Monday. “When that happens, they’ll get their five per cent increase.”

The recently re-elected Ontario Premier was speaking at a joint press conference with Toronto Mayor John Tory, where the pair discussed topics including affordable housing.

Read more: Ontario PCs won’t commit to accessibility improvements, disability advocate says

Ford and his PC Party dissolved the Ontario legislature and called the 2022 election before passing their most recent budget. The document went on to serve as the party’s campaign platform.

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MPPs will “keep the same budget” apart from a five per cent increase to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Ford said. The increase was promised during the election campaign.

Ford said his government would spend $425 million on a five per cent increase, and introduce legislation to increase ODSP rates annually.

The Ontario Liberals, NDP and Greens all promised more generous increases to ODSP than the PCs.

Read more: Ford says he’ll have an ‘aggressive’ housing plan, will focus on vacant property

“We’re going to increase it, I know the rate of inflation has gone up, we’re increasing it by five per cent. That’s one of our number one priorities when we pass the budget,” Ford said Monday.

ODSP rates have been frozen since 2018, with a single person on ODSP able to receive up to $1,169 a month for basic needs and shelter. Advocates say that is far too low, and the level of support would remain well below what’s needed.

“Impoverished people with disabilities — languishing below the poverty line and coping with the disproportionate burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic — needed a substantial ODSP increase long ago,” David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, told Global News.

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Read more: Who’s in, who’s out: A look at Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s new cabinet

Ford said his re-appointed Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, Raymond Cho, would make sure the government funds accessibility improvements in Ontario.

“We’re going to continue funding it and we’re going to move forward as quickly as we possibly can,” Ford said.

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