LESSONS TO BE LEARNED: THE DECISION OF THE SOCIAL BENEFITS TRIBUNAL IN TRANCHEMONTAGNE V. ONTARIO (DIRECTOR, DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAM)

Carla Hales-Ricalis

Abstract


In April 2009, the Ontario Social Benefits Tribunal ended a 10 years battle for appellants, Norman Werbeski and Robert Tranchemontagne in its deliberation that the Ontario Disability Supports Program Act violated their rights as enshrined in the Ontario Human Rights Code when it failed to recognize their alcoholism as a disability.

Drawing specific excerpts from the Respondents (Ontario government) defence and the Social Benefit Tribunal’s decision, the essay looks at how government policy affects persons with substance addiction and argues that Section 5(2) of the ODSPA places burdens on substance abusers and contributes significantly to their social stigma.

The outcomes of excluding substance addiction from the United States Social Assistance Programmes are reviewed and referred to in analyzing the Respondent’s claims. The conclusion highlights how this case reflects key steps towards greater inclusion for persons with disabilities and in particular for those whose disability is addiction and alcoholism.

Keywords: Social Benefits Tribunal, Ontario Disability Supports Program Act, alcoholism, disability, stigma

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