A new form of payment is coming for those who receive benefits in the District of Muskoka.

Reloadable payment cards will be replacing paper cheques for those 80 people each month receiving Ontario Works benefits that do not currently receive automatic electronic deposits. The cards are already in use for those receiving disability payments in the area from the province.

The cards are like a normal debit card except they don’t need to be attached to a bank account. They’re loaded each month and clients are able to use it anywhere regular debit payments are accepted.

There are many benefits to this style of payment system says Heather Elliott, the acting Director of Programs and Community Services.

“It’s automatic, it’s loaded right onto their card monthly and they can use it however they wish,” explains Elliott.

Originally scheduled to be in Muskoka for the start of 2019, Elliott says that timetable has been delayed with the provincial government’s oversight review.

“Some of the new strategies for modernization have been put on pause,” she explains. “Originally we were looking at the start of 2019 and that could still be the case but we are waiting for the minister in charge of community and children’s services to give us next steps.”

One other benefit to users of the reloadable card will be safety. Currently, some of those who receive a monthly paper cheque need to cash it at a cheque cashing facility or a bank. They then have all their money on them in cash, leaving them vulnerable to theft or losing the entire amount.

Currently, around 46,000 Ontario Disability Support Program recipients use the reloadable cards, which are provided by Royal Bank of Canada. The card can be accessed four times per month for ATM withdrawals and unlimited use in retail stores.