Ontario Ministry of Health reverses course on guardianship requirement for disabled woman
In the wake of last week’s shocking story of two-year-old Miah Marie St. Martin and her family being evicted from their home in the Toronto area, the Toronto Star has learned the Ontario government is planning to back down on its new plan to force people with disabilities to be under guardianship before being able to access benefits.
A senior Ministry of Health official confirmed to the Star on Tuesday that the government has made a “significant change” to its disability benefit rules and will be allowing family members to take over care for vulnerable people. A spokesperson told the Star the change is not related to Miah St. Martin’s case, and the ministry has not yet received a formal complaint about the changes.
In recent weeks, the Star has reported on the growing scandal of people with disabilities who are being forced into guardianships.
Last week, we reported that two-year-old Miah Marie St. Martin was forced out of her home by her aunt and uncle after she fell down stairs. Her uncle told the Star he had to hire a private cleaning service rather than to take her home after she banged her head. Miah has cerebral palsy, and has been diagnosed with a condition called epilepsy.
Also last week, our story on the case from our ongoing investigation into the abuse of people with disabilities raised questions about whether the government will reverse course on the guardianship rules. Now, we have learned that the government has changed its mind.
When asked if the government is revising its guardianship rules to allow a family member to take care of an older person with a disability, the ministry’s spokesperson said the changes are not related to Miah St. Martin and her case.
A senior manager in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) told the Star on Tuesday that a decision to end the old rules was delayed until after the St. Martin family case. The ODISP has had a long-standing policy that required family members to be part of guardianship before caregiving can begin, and the government has tried to enforce the requirement in the past.
There was concern over the rule change for years, said the Ministry of Health spokesperson, as well.
“The Ministry of Health, and our disability supports