A year ago, a 12-year-old boy was diagnosed with the life-threatening illness, called Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affects people of all ages.
The boy’s story made international headlines, and prompted the Ontario government to introduce a new provincial disability insurance program for people who have the disease.
It’s known as Ontario Disability Insurance (ODI) and it’s available to people aged 12 and older, or children.
But in 2015, the Ontario legislature passed a bill that would provide ODI to people with the disease and put the program in place before it would be expanded to everyone.
The new law also included a $100,000 funding bump for ODI.
The legislation was passed after the provincial government received thousands of calls from people with disabilities who were seeking help with the new program, said Mary-Louise Murray, ODI’s chief executive officer.
The $100 million in funding was the highest single amount given to the province in a single year, Murray said.ODI currently covers only one in every six Ontario residents with the condition.
But that number is projected to rise as ODI is expanded to more people.
Murray said she hopes ODI can help people who are at risk of the disease or struggling with other medical problems.
“The more people who qualify, the more resources we have to offer,” she said.
Murray also wants people to know that ODI does not cover a disability that prevents someone from working or working independently.
“If someone is on ODI, ODO or disability pension, the person still has to work or work independently,” she explained.
“But they also get the money to pay for their medical bills.”
Murray said the new law was a “big win” for people with Lou Gehri’s disease and the people of Ontario.
She said it also means ODI has more resources to provide support and help people with medical conditions.
Murray hopes that the new funding law will help make ODI a permanent fixture in the province.