Navigating ODSP as a guy into guys

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP): a safety net for many guys into guys

Everybody deserves a safety net. However, the world of social services and government support for those of us who are struggling can be difficult to navigate at times. On October 9th, MAX organized a workshop, in collaboration with Centre 454 and Bruce House on navigating ODSP for guys into guys living with mental illness, substance use disorders, and HIV. The goal of the presentation was to encourage guys to learn more about how this program can promote their financial stability and overall wellbeing.

What is ODSP

ODSP is a program administered by the province of Ontario that offers financial support to residents who are unable to work due to a disability. Under the ODSP Act, “a person with a disability is a person with a substantial physical or mental impairment that is continuous or recurrent, and is expected to last a year or more. In addition, the physical or mental impairment must directly result in a substantial restriction in the person’s ability to work.” Eligibility information can be found on the ODSP website.

Why is it so hard to get on ODSP?

Many reasons! Stigma around benefiting from government subsidies is a great barrier for guys into guys accessing ODSP, despite the fact that they contribute to society and they are an integral part of our community. Another barrier to ODSP is the complex application process.

Who can help guys into guys benefit from ODSP?

Brian Reid, Manager of the ODSP Application Support Program at Centre 454 is one of the few workers who specialize in ODSP applications in Ottawa. Only two organizations in Ottawa offer specialized support for navigating ODSP applications: Centre 454 and Wabano.

What are some benefits of being an ODSP recipient?

ODSP provides income supplements for people who are struggling financially because of a disability. It is important to note that people who have episodic health issues (e.g. people living with HIV, mental illness, substance use disorders) can go back to work and keep health benefits under ODSP even when they no longer require the income subsidy. They may also access additional support along a spectrum of needs, including help paying for medications and dental services, as their health status changes.

MAX would like to thank Brian Reid of Centre 454 and Ayan Jama of Bruce House for collaborating on this event and blog post. They can also be contacted along with Joël Xavier (, MAX Ottawa’s Health and Wellness Coordinator, for more questions.