Psychiatrists, Family Members and People with Mental Illness Urge Public Support for Increases to the Ontario Disability Support Program

    TORONTO, March 13 /CNW/ - The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and the
Ontario Psychiatric Association are calling for the public's support in urging
the government to increase rates of the Ontario Disability Support Program
(ODSP) in the upcoming provincial budget.
    ODSP is Ontario's financial safety net for people with disabilities who
are unable to work, including people with severe mental illnesses. "This
safety net has many holes however - the biggest one being that ODSP benefit
rates are well below the poverty line," says Ursula Lipski of the
Schizophrenia Society of Ontario.
    Over one-third (36 percent) of people receiving ODSP have a psychiatric
disability. Approximately 35,000 of those have psychosis related diagnoses
such as schizophrenia.
    "The current rates consign people who are unable to work because of
severe mental illness to a life of poverty. This in turn increases stress
which can actually trigger relapse of psychiatric illness," says Dr. Richard
O'Reilly, President of the Ontario Psychiatric Association. "My colleagues are
greatly concerned that many of our patients on ODSP are now unable to provide
for their basic needs."
    The poverty line for a single person living in a large urban centre is
just over $19,000 per year. Yet single people with disabilities living on ODSP
receive $11,500 per year or a paltry 60% of the poverty line.
    The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and the Ontario Psychiatric
Association are calling on Ontario citizens to urge their MPPs to increase
ODSP rates by 10% in the upcoming budget. Correcting the neglect and disregard
for the needs of some of Ontario's most vulnerable citizens must be a priority
for the Ontario Government. The 2007 Ontario budget presents this opportunity.

    The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is a family based organization
providing support, education and advocacy on behalf of people and families
affected by schizophrenia. The Ontario Psychiatric Association is the formal
professional association for over 700 psychiatrists in the Province.

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Dr. Richard O'Reilly,
President, Ontario Psychiatric Association, Tel. (519) 455-5110 Ext. 47240 or
(519) 245-3106, OPA office: (905) 827-4659, Email:; Ursula
Lipski, Director of Policy and Research, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, Tel
(416) 449-6830, Email

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