County of Simcoe transition worker pilot underway

Frontline workers from the County of Simcoe are participating in pilot project using an online interview to refer clients to the Clinic. During November and December, these Ontario Works transition workers will use a special version of the ODSP case file opening interview notify the Community Legal Clinic - Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes about clients who have been denied ODSP.

Transition workers are often the first to learn about ODSP denials. And these workers are responsible for most of the referrals made to the Clinic for ODSP denials. Referred clients are told to contact the clinic directly or the work will make the referral by telephone or fax.

County staff participating in the pilot will now instead complete a five-minute online interview. This process only collects contact information and the decision dates connected to the internal review and appeal process. However, the resulting email to the Clinic processes this information to populate several draft file opening forms and letters. These are ready for the Clinic's review on arrival.

In addition to giving clinic staff a head start with file opening document preparation, it is hoped that the online interview will speed up file opening time at the Clinic and reduce the instance of clients slipping between the cracks during the referral process. Another intended outcome is to alleviate the Clinic's ongoing difficulties connecting with clients who live in transitional housing and/or do not have regular access to telephones or transportation to attend our offices.

On October 3, 2012 the Clinic met with the manager of Simcoe County Ontario Works and approximately twelve supervisors to demonstrate the interactive ODSP appeal interview. The presentation was met with an enthusiastic response. If the pilot goes well, the supervisors are keen proceed with training all transition worker staff in the County to use the interview when referring clients to the clinic. The Clinic conducted training for County staff in Midhurst on November 2, 2012.

ODSP denials continue to be a highly volume practice area for the Community Legal Clinic - Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes. The Clinic presently has over 400 open case files.