The priorities of the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) focus on improving opportunities for a diverse population including:
The ministry works to remove obstacles that impede opportunity and participation in community life by meeting the unique needs of people with timely, responsive and high quality services, through a highly decentralized delivery system.
Our social assistance programs provide financial and employment assistance to those in need, and help people to live more independently in their communities. Supports for adults with developmental disabilities provide places to live and help them work and participate in a range of community activities. Our community services support women and children who have experienced violence, victims and survivors of human trafficking, Indigenous peoples and communities, and people who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or deafblind. Through our Family Responsibility Office, we collect and distribute child and spousal support to help improve the financial security of families. And the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy promotes access to culturally relevant health and community services for Indigenous people.
Our ministry is guided by a vision of an Ontario where all communities are resilient, inclusive and sustained by the economic and civic contributions of all their citizens. As such, we partner with other ministries, municipalities, the federal government, Indigenous and community leaders and agencies to promote opportunities that support people in achieving their potential.
Our ministry’s key priorities are to:
Our goal is to help people achieve their potential through independence and inclusion in their communities, and to improve their quality of life through a strong sense of belonging, wellbeing, engagement and expression.
All of our work contributes to the government's commitment to create jobs, grow the economy and reduce poverty.
The ministry funds services and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families. People with developmental disabilities want to be active participants in their communities. To do that, many rely on a range of services and supports that promote social inclusion and involvement, including:
The ministry also provides direct funding to people and families to give them choice in their support arrangements and allow them to select the services and supports they feel best meet their individualized needs.
In 2017-18, the ministry is building on the 2014 multi-year investment to provide greater access and more appropriate supports and services.
These investments will continue the government’s commitment to help people live as independently as possible in inclusive communities as well as help address situations of crisis involving people with urgent and complex care needs. In 2017-18, this investment of approximately $130 million to the base budget will:
The ministry will also invest $5 million in 2017-18 in capital funding to support:
An additional $1.5 million will support the rebuilding of a residence for adults with developmental disabilities in the Cambridge area. Christian Horizons in Branchton, which once provided housing for four adults with special needs, was destroyed by a fire in January 2015. The new facility will replace the four-bed, 2,500 square foot home with a modern and accessible six-bed, 4,800 square foot residence. It will better serve residents and provide space for two additional people. Construction is expected to be complete by spring 2018.
Over the next two years the government will work with families and community partners to transition more than 400 young adults with complex special needs currently being funded through the children’s system to be funded through the adult developmental services system.
The ministry continues to work with the ministries of Children and Youth Services, Education, Health and Long-term Care, Community Safety and Correctional Services and Advanced Education and Skills Development, to support smooth life transitions for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Ontario’s social assistance programs provide income and employment support for those in need.
Ontario Works provides income assistance for individuals and families in financial need, and the Ontario Disability Support Program provides longer term income support for people with disabilities and their families. Both programs provide employment assistance to help people develop skills, remove barriers to finding and keeping jobs, and become more independent through work.
Income security reform is a key part of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy including our social assistance programs which help more than 900,000 adults and children every day.
The Income Security Reform Working Group has been developing a roadmap to a fully-costed, multi-year implementation plan for transformation focused on a broader income security approach where social assistance reform is an integrated component. This roadmap will lead to a better system that balances simplicity, adequacy, fairness and employment opportunities. The ultimate goal is to make programs as effective as possible for the people who need them.
The ministry will continue its focus on simplifying the social assistance system, reducing administrative tasks and integrating services and supports to improve the person experience and allow for greater focus on high impact interactions. For example, we will leverage more technology, introduce more self-serve options and simplify service through initiatives such as a reloadable payment card and other paperless business practices.
We will also complete the upload of Ontario Works financial and employment costs from municipalities in January 2018. This is anticipated to save municipalities $425 million overall.
Working with community partners, the ministry funds several community services programs, including:
The ministry also provides access to adoption information disclosure services via the Custodian of Adoption Information Unit.
In addition, we provide funding and administrative support to the Soldier’s Aid Commission which provides support to Ontario veterans. We are also responsible for maintaining the legislative and regulatory framework for the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998.
The ministry’s community services programs include a range of Violence Against Women (VAW) investments including:
In response to recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, the ministry worked with the VAW sector to establish new standards for shelters, to support the provision of consistent, high-quality services. The ministry released the shelter standards in September 2016 and is targeting full implementation by early 2017-18.
On February 23, 2016, the Ontario government released Walking Together: Ontario's Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, which outlines actions to prevent violence against Indigenous women and reduce its impact on youth, families and communities.
Ontario committed over $100 million over three years to support the implementation of the strategy, which builds on the existing work of Indigenous partners, community organizations and government to raise awareness of and prevent violence; provide more effective programs and community services that reflect the priorities of Indigenous leaders and communities; and improve socio-economic conditions that support healing within Indigenous communities.
Under the strategy, the ministry will continue to work with Indigenous and community partners to improve access to community services that play an important role in reducing violence against Indigenous women and their families through culturally relevant programming that is Indigenous-designed and delivered.
In the March 2016 Federal Budget, the federal government established the Social Infrastructure Fund (SIF) in order to improve the quality and increase the supply of affordable housing and to support economic growth. As part of this announcement, nearly $90 million over two years for the construction and renovation of shelters and transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence was identified. Ontario’s portion of the funding was $18.6 million in 2016-17 and $9.3 million in 2017-18:
The objectives of the SIF program are to:
The ministry distributed SIF funding across three categories:
In October 2016, Hoshizaki House in Dryden was the first project to be announced under the SIF program. Hoshizaki House will receive up to $3.1 million to replace an aging building with a bigger and better shelter where women and their children can begin to rebuild their lives.
In March 2017, Nelson House and North York Women’s Shelter (NYWS) were approved to receive funding from the Social Infrastructure Fund.
Additionally 55 VAW agencies were approved to receive approximately $4.1 million for over 140 minor capital projects at 58 shelters under the SIF program to support safety, security and accessibility, and program optimization.
The ministry is currently developing an investment plan for the available SIF funding in 2017-18.
The ministry also supports interpreter services for adults who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or deafblind, and intervenor services for adults who are deafblind. Both services help people communicate and participate more fully in their communities.
The ministry is continuing its multi-year renewal strategy for the Intervenor Services program to support a fair, transparent and financially sustainable program. This includes a comprehensive, sector-led human resource initiative to increase the recruitment, talent and skill among intervenors and management.
In 2017-18, the ministry will finalize a funding framework for intervenor services in consultation with stakeholders. The framework includes clear eligibility criteria, an individualized funding model and the implementation of a common needs-based assessment tool. A Single Point of Access is being developed as the portal for all individuals applying for intervenor services in the province.
The Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy delivers a wide range of health, healing and wellness programs and services that are Indigenous-designed, delivered and managed.
The Strategy is funded through five ministries, led by Community and Social Services and including Health and Long-Term Care, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Children and Youth Services and the Status of Women. Funded organizations include First Nations, Métis, Political/Territorial Organizations, Indigenous provincial organizations and service providers.
The ministry and Indigenous partners have a shared commitment to reduce family violence and violence against Indigenous women and children, and improve Indigenous health, healing and wellness through culturally appropriate programming and ongoing collaboration. Community-based programs are available to Indigenous peoples living on-reserve and in urban and rural communities.
In 2017-18, government ministries will continue to work closely with Indigenous leaders and organizations to ensure future Strategy success.This includes working with funded organizations to increase access to services such as crisis intervention, counselling, supports for women, children and families at risk, and health and family violence awareness and education.
The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) collects and distributes child and spousal support payments to improve the financial security of families. Every year, FRO is involved in more than 180,000 cases involving more than 380,000 support recipients, payors and third parties.
In 2017-18, FRO will continue to build on its investments in technology to improve both the effectiveness of enforcement efforts and responsiveness to clients:
The ministry’s 2017-18 infrastructure plan is focused on making strategic investments in infrastructure to support achievement of ministry program outcomes.
Investments will help Indigenous healing and wellness centres, VAW community agencies, interpreter and intervenor service providers, and developmental services providers to maintain, improve and provide safer and more accessible facilities for individuals, children and families.
The ministry will continue to develop an asset management plan that will enable better outcomes and transformation, sustain and enhance service delivery capacity, and demonstrate effective stewardship of public assets.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy, overseen by the Minister of Housing, has been established to support Ontario’s multi-year priority outcome of reducing poverty, inequality and exclusion. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Office (PRSO) supports initiatives to continue lifting people out of poverty including design of a Basic Income Pilot and developing a food security strategy.
The PRSO also leads policy development and implementation of a $50 million Local Poverty Reduction Fund grant program including program delivery infrastructure with the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Fund supports local, community-driven solutions and drives progress on the ground. The Fund is currently supporting 71 projects across Ontario, including seven Indigenous-led projects.
In coordination with other ministries that work closely with our municipal partners, the ministry’s recently established Human Services Integration Office will work to explore strategies that:
The ministry is working to develop recommendations for better integration of human service programs provided in partnership with municipalities: municipally delivered social assistance (e.g. Ontario Works), and affordable housing, homelessness prevention, early years and childcare programs.
The goal of this work is to simplify access to programs and services for clients, streamline service delivery and improve service system management.
On June 30, 2016, Ontario announced the Strategy to End Human Trafficking which will invest up to $72 million aimed at increasing awareness and coordination, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and improving survivors' access to services.
As part of the Strategy, the Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Office (PATCO) was established to help improve coordination and integration across the law enforcement, social, health, education and child welfare sectors as well as provide leadership at the provincial level for the implementation of the strategy.
The ministry, through the PATCO, will fund agencies and frontline workers, including those serving Indigenous communities, to help victims access the full spectrum of services and supports needed to exit human trafficking, and recover and heal from the trauma of victimization.
Ministry Planned Expenditures 2017-18 ($M)
Ministry Planned Expenditures by Program Name 2017-18*
*Includes Statutory Appropriations for Minister’s salary, Bad Debt, and Capital Expense (amortization).
Broader Public Sector Consolidation is reported by ministry total and not by program
In 2014 the government announced $810 million over three years to improve community and developmental services, with the total base funding for developmental services increasing to more than $2 billion. This represents the largest funding increase ever to this sector.
Because of this investment
The 2014-2019 Poverty Reduction Strategy, Realizing Our Potential, aims to create a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential and contribute to a prosperous and healthy Ontario. Highlights of the progress made in achieving that goal include:
This is a text version of an organizational chart for the Ministry of Community and Social Services as of April 2016. The chart shows the following hierarchical structure with the top level assigned to the Minister of Community and Social Services.
MCSS shares costs for social assistance and other specified social services programs with the federal government, municipalities, First Nations, and other public sector organizations.
Federal ReimbursementsIndependent of block funding received by the province under the Canada Social Transfer (CST), the ministry receives federal funding under the 1965 Indian Welfare Services Agreement (IWS), the Social Housing Agreement, the Supporting Families Initiative Fund, the Social Infrastructure Fund, and the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities (LMAPD) for selected programs. Estimated federal reimbursement for the 2017-18 fiscal year under these agreements is:
Cost Sharing with the Federal Government
|1965 Indian Welfare Services Agreement|
Social Housing Agreement
Supporting Families Initiative Fund
|Family Responsibility Office||1,028,900|
Social Infrastructure Fund
|Social Infrastructure Fund||9,284,700|
Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities
|Employment Services and Supports||51,513,310|
|2017-18 Estimates $||2016-17 Interim Actuals $||2015-16 Actuals $|
Soldiers' Aid Commission
The Soldiers’ Aid Commission (SAC) provides financial assistance to veterans, their spouses or dependents who are in need when all other resources have been exhausted. An eligible veteran is a person in financial need who resides in Ontario, enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces and served overseas or served with the armed forces in Canada during the First or Second World Wars or the Korean War. Support is provided to assist with the payment of home or health related expenses that veterans, their spouses or dependents may have difficulty affording.
MCSS provides the SAC with accommodations for meetings and administrative support, as well as annual funding of $253,200 for payments to applicants approved for financial assistance. This includes $100,000 for grants for applicants with non-overseas service. The relationship between SAC and the ministry is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Commission and the Minister. The MOU was last renewed in 2007 and is in effect until 2017.
The applicant must have insufficient income and assets to pay for the service or the support he/she is requesting. The SAC employs a screening tool to assess financial need.
Financial assistance is provided to meet a specific health or home related need when all other resources have been exhausted. Funding is provided on an individual basis and is not provided for long-term, ongoing assistance.
The SAC Chair and Commissioners are appointed by Order-In-Council. By law, Commissioners serve without pay but may claim out-of-pocket expenses.
The Commission celebrated its 100th anniversary in November 2015. A Treasury Board required agency mandate review is currently ongoing.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services promotes resilient and inclusive communities through delivering and funding programs that help people achieve their potential, build independence and improve their quality of life.
|Description||2017-18 Estimates $||Change from 2016-17 Estimates $||Change from 2016-17 Estimates %||2016-17 Estimates1 $||2016-17 Interim Actuals1 $||2015-16 Actuals1 $|
|Poverty Reduction Strategy||66,426,300||53,292,000||405.7||13,134,300||10,296,810||4,496,467|
|Total Operating Expense to be Voted||12,337,193,700||944,680,200||8.3||11,392,513,500||11,622,872,504||11,213,150,973|
|Ministry Total Operating Expense||12,365,289,614||933,164,200||8.2||11,432,125,414||11,651,998,518||11,252,749,341|
|Ministry Total Operating Expense Including Consolidation||12,346,354,814||932,510,200||8.2||11,413,844,614||11,632,337,169||11,233,490,270|
|Less: Special Warrants||0||0||-||0||0||0|
|Total Operating Assets to be Voted||32,636,000||(12,668,000)||(28.0)||45,304,000||32,636,007||26,276,021|
|Ministry Total Operating Assets||32,636,000||(12,668,000)||(28.0)||45,304,000||32,636,007||26,276,021|
|Less: Special Warrants||0||0||-||0||0||0|
|Total Capital Expense to be Voted||46,124,900||6,917,900||17.6||39,207,000||61,571,700||37,958,712|
|Ministry Total Capital Expense||72,570,900||5,049,200||7.5||67,521,700||87,676,400||64,070,927|
|Less: Special Warrants||0||0||-||0||0||0|
|Total Capital Assets to be Voted||3,310,000||1,359,500||69.7||1,950,500||1,100,500||2,628,162|
|Ministry Total Capital Assets||3,310,000||1,359,500||69.7||1,950,500||1,100,500||2,628,162|
|Ministry Total Operating and Capital Including Consolidation (not including Assets)||12,418,925,714||937,559,400||8.2||11,481,366,314||11,720,013,569||11,297,561,197|
1 - Historical data has been restated for transfers to other ministries.
Note: Numbers maynot add due to rounding
This past year has been an important year for the Ministry of Community and Social Services. We are building a culture which changes the way we view the people we support.
About 10 per cent of Ontario’s population accesses our ministry’s services. These include people who are unemployed or under employed; those with physical and developmental disabilities, many of whom have mental health issues; (58,000); survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and human trafficking; women and children supported through the Family Responsibility Office; and Indigenous and First Nations communities. In addition, 960,000 people receive income support.
This is a large and vulnerable population with increasingly complex issues, requiring ministry staff and its delivery partners to understand what supports are needed, when they are needed and how these supports can be assessed.
We have begun to think and work differently; promoting inclusion and diversity, so that we empower people to live the lives they want by offering them more choice, with greater ease, when they need it.
Through our staff and service delivery partners, ranging from transfer payment agencies, community organizations, municipalities, and Indigenous leaders and their communities, we provide support through services that include:
The people we serve are challenged by incredible obstacles, but are rich in potential and unique in their abilities. When we celebrate their individuality, we help to make their lives richer, and the communities in which they live stronger.
Here are their stories...
Ashley’s Story (Host Family Program): Ashley’s Host Mother: “Ashley had a difficult past. She couldn’t find maybe the right family situation that she was looking for - someone to fully support her and care for her the way that she wanted to be. Ashley just likes to be a part of a family and she feels wanted and just a valued part of our family.”
Devon’s Story (Ontario Works): Devon’s case worker: “He was employed, then out of work and ran out of funds. We assisted him with the Hammer Heads program. I think Devon had a bit of success going in his life then kind of fell on a difficult time, and we kind of gave him the opportunity to grow into the potential of who he wanted to be, he just needed a little push.”
Vivian’s Story (Violence Against Women Services): Gaetane Pharand, Founder and Executive Director, Le Centre Victoria pour femmes: “Vivian lost her mother as a young child and was raised by her father. She was sexually assaulted, physically and psychologically abused in her childhood. She was referred to Centre Victoria pour femmes and has been receiving services for the past 12 months.”
Indigenous Healthcare Story (Anishnawbe Mushkiki, An Indigenous Health Access Centre in Thunder Bay): Bernice Dubec, Executive Director: “Indigenous people have not enjoyed a good relationship with mainstream healthcare. Statistics show that Indigenous people who have high rates of terminal illnesses or other chronic diseases are being diagnosed at a later stage. In the past, they have not been able to participate in screening, prevention or have access to a physician to get an early diagnosis.”
When the people we serve are successful, when they are thriving, not just surviving, we know that our system of partner services has helped create conditions that have empowered their lives. Our partners are critical to delivering those services. They are primarily front-line workers, connecting people who are vulnerable to a vast range of community supports and programs, assisting them every day to move closer to more choice and independence.
Here are outcomes from our partners’ community programs:
Ashley’s Story: Ashley: “I like to hang out with my mom and dad. She’s helped me learn how to take care of myself to work at Cineplex. I now know what having a mom and dad is like and I know what it’s like to be a part of a family and be loved and wanted - it’s awesome. They’ve taught me so much and they’ve even taught me how to love.”
Devon’s Story: Devon: “I’m pushing myself every day. I’m doing what I love and what I want to do.”
Vivian’s Story. Vivian: “I came to the Victoria Centre for Women because my aunt referred me. The services I received at the centre included counselling. I took a self-defence course. I also did the Impact Therapy to help me cope with mourning my mother. I developed new objectives for my life, my career. My goal is to get my Masters and Doctorate. I am more confident about how my past has affected my life. I feel comfortable with who I am.”
Indigenous Story. Bernice: “Anishnawbe has made incredible strides among Thunder Bay District Aboriginals. Worrying statistics are steadily improving. We provide screening for diabetes, heart disease and cancer to ensure that Aboriginal people get an early diagnosis and access to treatment earlier. We take a proactive approach, empowering Aboriginal people to take active responsibility for their healthcare. It’s with this holistic approach to health that we envision our communities and our people will be a lot healthier and live to their full expectations.”
With our partners, we have engaged in transforming a human services system that has addressed key directions in the Premier’s mandate letter: more person-centered services, easier to access services, services which help people achieve their strengths and those which empower women and children in safe environments.
In the ministry, we aspire to maximize people’s strengths and help them be the most that they can be. Often, this is by providing income support to them while they are out of work or looking for work: or it can be by providing help to partners whose spouses are forfeiting their support payments.
In Ontario’s 2016 February Budget, $137 million was committed to social assistance rates. Those receiving Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) payments received a little bit more money, making their day-to-day lives a little easier. For instance, since 2014, single adults with no children receiving Ontario Works have received an increase of $960 per year.
The deduction of child support payments from social assistance was ended so that families who receive child support can benefit more from this income. As a result, almost 19,000 families began receiving an average of $282 more per month or $3,380 per year.
And for spouses who came to the Family Responsibility Office for help, a total of $713 million in payments was collected for families and children in one year.
We have also focused on making services easier to access. For instance, young people with developmental disabilities have been more empowered with a simplified application process for ODSP and the Special Services at Home funding. We also partnered with The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to provide a reloadable payment card for accessing ODSP payments.
Approximately 41 per cent of those receiving ODSP face mental health issues. Many are homeless. For people receiving ODSP who do not have bank accounts, the reloadable card provides safer, more convenient access to funds, creates independence and saves them from potential stigma.
The ministry is exploring new ways to help people in poverty reach their full potential, including a pilot that would test how a basic income might benefit people living in a variety of low income situations, including those who are currently working. Basic income is a payment to eligible families or individuals that ensure a minimum income level that could help them meet their basic needs while improving health, employment and housing outcomes. This approach is anchored in trust of and respect for the individuals who need support.
We are the lead ministry to implement and monitor our progress and those of partner ministries on the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Aligning with the work of this Strategy is the multi-year roadmap for income security reform. With the help of the Income Security Reform Working Group and parallel working groups with First Nations and urban Indigenous partners, work is well underway in developing a multi-year roadmap for an income security system that is based on equity, adequacy, sustainability and simplicity.
Over the past year, more people were able to build their independence, live within communities and maximize their unique capabilities by fulfilling their dreams.
This is particularly evident in the first stages of transforming our supports for people with developmental disabilities. In 2016-17 we eliminated the 2014 wait list for the Passport program, giving 13,000 adults with developmental disabilities more power to choose the services they need, when they need them. Through Passport, these individuals now have the opportunity to take up life skills in their communities, hire a support worker and obtain temporary respite care for their families and caregivers. In total, this means that through the $810 million multi-year investment about 25,000 families will have more support in their communities.
People with developmental disabilities often have complex issues, including mental health or other health-related challenges. In the past, they have experienced multiple medical assessments where they have had to repeat their stories several times over. These individuals now have a much-improved streamlined customer service experience when it comes to primary care. Once a person is deemed eligible for ministry-funded developmental services, they automatically become part of a prescribed group under the ODSP. This decreases their wait times for care and support, reduces stigma, and lessens time and effort filling out documents and seeing various health care practitioners.
We can only have more inclusive communities if adults with disabilities feel safer. With our new ReportON service, any Ontario citizen can now report suspected, alleged or witnessed abuse of adults with a developmental disability to a 24/7 toll-free telephone (including TTY) and email service. This not only gives people with disabilities more security, it encourages them to be out in the community more.
Our LifeShare-Host Family Program- is another example of how adults with disabilities can feel a greater part of their communities and get the love and security they long for. Adults with disabilities are matched with families who are able to provide a loving home and support. As with Ashley’s example earlier, people can learn new skills, be a part of their community and experience the emotional benefits of being part of a family.
In order to support host families and those agencies providing residential services, we strengthened our inspection framework; this included setting out new requirements for agencies that provide the Host Family Program, which will allow them to enhance their oversight activities regarding host families.
For most adults, gaining independence from family by moving away from home is an innate desire and a hallmark of true independence. So, providing funding to agencies for residential opportunities that are safe and innovative is essential to helping people gain that independence. Lorne Coleman, President of the Parents’ Auxiliary at Southwestern Regional Centre (SRC) in Blenheim and whose son Craig lived at SRC for 35 years, said, “The good thing that happened is the fact that the families or loved ones of the residents had the opportunity to choose what type of home their loved one was to go to. I have not heard one complaint from the parents or loved ones of residents that have been placed in the community.”
Ontario invested $2 million in repairs and upgrades at residential properties to create additional residential capacity for approximately 50 people with developmental disabilities. In addition, $119,500 was provided to ten developmental service agencies to develop an inclusive, community based housing strategy. The ministry has also invested $6 million over three years in 18 creative housing projects recommended by the Housing Task Force to address the need for a broader range of housing solutions that give individuals more choice and flexibility.
And in the future, we hope to see the outcomes of a Developmental Services Housing Forum we hosted where people shared ideas on removing barriers and improving opportunities for innovative and inclusive housing for adults with developmental disabilities.
A grim statistic is that women experience violent incidences an average of 35 times before they decide to leave the violent situation and seek shelter. Violence against women affects us all - their children, their families and their communities. It fragments their lives and has a long-term impact that resonates through the family.
In 2015-16, more than 10,000 women and about 6,900 of their children were served by an emergency Violence Against Women (VAW) shelter in Ontario. More than 40,000 women and 4,000 children received counselling from VAW counsellors.
These shelters are not only safe havens for women and their children, they are places to regain hope, access housing and legal services, and find the support they need to rebuild their lives and those of their families.
To that end, to better meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence and their children, we worked to find funding for the construction of new shelters in Elgin County and Dryden to replace old facilities. We also funded over 800 projects in more than 170 community service agencies with $16 million dollars for repairs and upgrades. And our Rural Realities Fun. invested more than $1 million in 16 projects that support Violence Against Women agencies and shelters in rural, remote and northern communities. This funding provided better service coordination and helped minimize delivery challenges in the North.
Sadly, human trafficking is also a reality in our province. Available data and anecdotal evidence shows that Ontario accounts for 65 per cent of police-reported human trafficking cases in Canada and 70 per cent of this is for purposes of sexual exploitation. As a result of these horrific statistics, Ontario has established the Provincial Anti-Human Trafficking Coordination Office (the Office) to oversee and coordinate the implementation of its Strategy to End Human Trafficking. The government is investing up to $72 million in strengthening provincial leadership and coordination, awareness and community supports, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and providing culturally-relevant services and supports for Indigenous survivors of human trafficking. Our ministry houses the Office. In 2016, the Office started work to develop measurement tools to monitor progress and evaluate the impact of the Strategy; engaged stakeholders on the Community Supports Fund and Indigenous-led Initiatives fund; and coordinated the development and delivery of multi-sector initiatives with key ministry partners.
We have a long way to go to help our Indigenous communities recover from the legacy of residential schools and the resulting challenges facing communities and individuals. Through programs and actions focused on reconciliation, we are working with Indigenous partners to address the legacy of residential schools, close gaps and remove barriers, support Indigenous culture and reconcile relationships with these communities.
Six hundred (600) jobs and 460 community-based health and healing projects have been created through the investment in the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy, including $47 million this year. As a result of the government’s investment of $750,000, communities in the Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie corridor can now go to the new Dan Pine Healing Lodge for programs. And women on and off-reserve can have greater access to a counseling helpline and get better service because of improvements to Indigenous shelters and counselling agencies.
We didn’t achieve these results alone. Our greatest assets are the partnerships we’ve forged with those who share our vision of providing greater choice and flexibility for our individuals and their families.
Over this past year, we have been actively engaging with the people we serve, the agencies that deliver services, and government at all levels. This past fall, the ministry engaged 400 agency leaders to discuss how they can continue to transform to person-centered practices. And in February we met in Toronto with all Federal, Provincial and Territorial ministers with responsibility for social services.
Evening sessions for families and caregivers were also held with over 230 family members. They heard from the executive directors and had the opportunity to meet with other families.
As we continue to look for solutions that will help us do a better job in providing services to people who need them, we have engaged with advocates, people with lived experience, delivery partners and others through the Income Security Reform Working Group. Specific Indigenous forums were also created, to ensure Indigenous voices are heard within policy and decision-making-the First Nations Income Security Reform Working Group and the Urban Indigenous Table on Income Security Reform.
Together, these groups are looking at reform of the income security system, including changes to social assistance, with conversations focused on relevant issues such as social inclusion, health, income and housing. The advice we receive will be critical to informing the development of a cohesive, multi-year plan for change.
Through forums like our Housing Forum and moving forward with the Basic Income pilot, group discussions, informal surveys and ongoing feedback and input, we have brainstormed creative ideas, designed new programs, and streamlined our processes. Together we have provided more value-add with more choices, reduced barriers and more effective work processes. This partnership has resulted in empowering people, making them more independent and helping them to live their lives more fully.
We have engaged those with lived experience, and we thank them for having the courage to participate in our initiatives. Because of them, we will be testing new concepts like Basic Income.
We take our responsibility to work across government very seriously. We have collaborated with the Ministries of Housing, Health and Long-Term Care, Children and Youth Services, Community Safety and Correctional Services, Education and the Attorney General. And we have worked up and down all levels of government. Our municipal partners have been key in our human services integration process by helping to mitigate barriers and deliver services more effectively. Our federal partners are also engaged on issues of human trafficking, status of women, income support through child benefits, Indigenous reconciliation programs, and violence against Indigenous women.
There is still much to be done.
We will focus on outcomes, not on outputs. We will continue to engage our partner organizations, staff and those with lived experience. And we will act on recommendations from third parties; and leverage the results of the pilots and specific engagements we have conducted or started in 2016 - such as the Basic Income Pilot consultations, the Housing Forum, and Indigenous initiatives on reconciliation and violence against Indigenous women.
With our partners and input from those we serve, we will continue to drive change through the Developmental Disabilities Sector and to improve people’s lives with income security.
We will continue to move forward with addressing how the income security system can better meet the needs of people facing poverty, and the role social assistance should play, as we develop a multi-year roadmap for an income security system that is based on equity, adequacy, sustainability and simplicity.
We will continue to lead the work on Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking and the Poverty Reduction Strategy.
As we move through the next year, we will be investigating more self-serve options and choices so people can participate more in their communities and be more independent. Our efforts will continue to focus on simplifying processes and applications by leveraging research outcomes, technology and data collection. The ministry will be flexible and we will explore best practices and IT solutions that lead to becoming more efficient and productive.
We are passionate about helping the people we serve live fuller, happier lives. And with these very individuals, our partners, and our dedicated staff, we will continue to build a human services delivery system which removes barriers, applauds diversity and maximizes potential in people, processes and activities.
|Ministry Interim Expenditures 2016-17 ($M)|
|Staff Strength (as of March 31, 2017)||3,610.10