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Community Advocate

LIFE*SPIN provides a safe, comfortable atmosphere, where everyone is treated with respect, dignity, and genuine concern.

Many of our working poor and those on social assistance are struggling to house, feed, and clothe themselves, and their families.

Compassionate Social Service & Alleviation of Poverty

Many of London’s working poor and those who need income assistance or replacements are struggling to house, feed, and clothe themselves, and their families.  Between 25 and 35 people call or visit our offices each day for help in dealing with social assistance agencies and other service providers, such as Hydro, Union Gas, Housing, and O.S.A.P.  Depending on the situation, LIFE*SPIN provides information, support, and community-based programs to low-income Londoners from our storefront location on Dundas Street East. Here, we take the time to listen to the overlapping difficulties that impact their families.  Direct intervention at an early stage often prevents a problem from becoming a crisis.

Basic Needs & Shelter

The advocacy team at LIFE*SPIN specializes in the following legislation's:

1.    Ontario Works (OW), also known as welfare, is the net meant to prevent people from falling through the cracks, and is considered income of the last resort.  If an individual is denied or suspended from OW, they are left with no income, and are at risk of becoming homeless. The advocates start the appeal process in mediation with the OW worker who made the decision. There are numerous reasons for suspensions and termination of cases. Often the mediation process can resolve the issue. The advocates at LIFE*SPIN also ensure arrangement for safe housing, provide list of food banks, and ensure that if there is a medical condition, medical coverage is continued with OW.

2.   The Ontario Disability Support Program Act (ODSP) is the provincial disability program.  Individuals without insurance plans who cannot work and have few assets can apply for this program.  The advocate’s role is to help gather and review supporting medical documents, contact doctors for updated reports, and frequently help clients complete the complicated application forms.  The Social Benefits Tribunal reports that more than 80% of applications are denied due to missing objective medical evidence to support the applications.  Most of the sick applicants waiting for their appeals to ODSP are on welfare, and many are without doctors.

3.   The Canada Pension Plan-Disability Benefits (CPP) is the federal disability pension.  In order to qualify for this disability benefit, you must have worked and contributed to the CPP plan. The advocate’s role is to guide and assist clients in making application and accessing the medical reports, similar to the ODSP process.  The application forms are detailed, and often confusing to many in need.  Increasingly, our advocacy team is assisting with additional CPP applications, such as Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplements. 

Health: 

There are numerous overlapping needs and program barriers which require research and application support to ensure all the client's basic needs are met, including housing, food, and necessary medical support.  This includes hearing tests, eye examinations, assisting clients in accessing a doctor, applying for assistive devices supports to obtain TENS machines, scooters, grab bars, hearing aids and the like.  As noted previously, we also provide Heath Access vouchers for non-prescription items, to provide necessary health care items, while assisting the clients to access more permanent supports.

"If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering, speak out, then the noise will be deafening. Politicians will have to listen."

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Office of the Community Advocate provides the following:

-summary advice to clients

-mediation and advocacy services

-referrals, information and resources

-assistance completing housing and disability applications,

Ontario Works, ODSP, CPP, Income Taxes, Vouchers, etc.

Pat.jpg

Patricia: Community Advocate

 

 

Len: Income Tax Specialist

 

LIFE*SPIN is a member of the Poverty Law & Advocacy Network of Canada: http://www.planc.povnet.org/node/155

Justice with Dignity: Inquest into the death of Kimberly Rogers http://dawn.thot.net/Kimberly_Rogers/kria92.html

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