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1.0 Provision of Information

Applicable to: Application Entities
Legislative Authority for Policy Directive: Section 7 (2)3
Function of Application Entity under the Act: Section 13(6)
Effective Date: August 15, 2013

Purpose

The purpose of this policy directive is to ensure that Application Entities provide appropriate information and quality customer service to the public in a provincially-consistent manner.

Policy

The Application Entity shall be the primary contact point for public inquiries about all relevant community-based services available in Ontario to persons with developmental disabilities – this information shall be clear and transparent, relevant, responsive, up-to-date, and shall be provided to the public, including persons with developmental disabilities and/or their representatives of choice, in compliance with all applicable legislation.

Directive

When an Application Entity is asked to provide information about adult developmental services and supports in Ontario, the Application Entity shall provide general information on:

  • all relevant community-based services1 available to persons with developmental disabilities including Ministry of Community and Social Services (Ministry)-funded adult developmental services and supports2 in accordance with the Act;
  • the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008, including:
    • the process for applying for Ministry-funded adult developmental services and supports; and
    • where applicable, the choice available to eligible applicants to receive direct funding to purchase adult developmental services and supports, or to access adult developmental services and supports through service agencies funded by the Ministry.
  • how to find information on the French Language Services Act, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and its regulations, and the Human Rights Code in Ontario;
  • how persons with developmental disabilities can provide feedback on the services and supports provided by service agencies;
  • how the Application Entity will respond to email, mail, in-person, and telephone questions about relevant community-based services and service providers for persons with developmental disabilities; and
  • location(s) of Application Entities within the region, and locations of other Application Entities across the province, including contact information and hours of operation for each location.

The Application Entity shall use the 211 Ontario data base as a primary source of information about relevant community-based services and service providers for persons with developmental disabilities, wherever available.

The Application Entity shall receive and respond to information requested by any member of the public, and share standard information on Ministry-funded adult developmental services and supports and other relevant community-based services and service providers for persons with developmental disabilities in any of the following ways, as appropriate:

  • In person

  • Via telephone

  • By Email

  • By mail

  • Over the internet

In General

The Application Entity shall:

  • establish standard business hours of operation during which staff will respond directly to in-person, telephone, and on-line (e-mail) enquiries;
  • establish hours outside of standard business hours of operation both during the week and on weekends, for eligible applicants to participate in scheduled Application Package3 interviews;
  • maintain accurate, current information on community resources to encourage and support more participation by persons with developmental disabilities in community life;
  • develop and implement protocols for responding to information requests made in-person, by telephone, email, mail, through the Application Entity website, or by other means, in a secure and confidential manner and as set out in a Ministry-approved service plan;
  • develop and implement protocols for the provision of standard information, as set out in a Ministry-approved service plan, that includes requirements to:
    • provide standard information in plain language, in hard copy (where applicable), by email or through the website, and by voicemail;
    • review and update of standard information annually, and where information comes from an outside source (not directly from the Application Entity), put protocols in place to update information on a regular basis; and
    • include clearly visible, effective and revision dates on all forms, protocols, and in published website content.
  • comply with all applicable legislation, which may include:
    • the French Language Services Act, and its regulations;
    • accessibility requirements in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and its regulations;
    • the Human Rights Code in Ontario; and
    • the Ministry of Community and Social Services Act;

The Application Entity shall include the following specific requirements for telephone, email, website, and in-person information provision in its protocols:

In Person

The Application Entity shall:

  • assign responsibility to knowledgeable staff to greet people, respond to in-person requests for information about adult developmental services and supports, and to refer people to additional sources of information and community-based resources as needed;
  • provide information specific to the needs of each of the following groups, in a consistent manner to:
    1. eligible applicants for adult developmental services and supports in accordance with the Act, and/or representatives of their choice, on the application, prioritization and funding processes, and relevant community-based services available in the community; and
    2. potential applicants, and/or representatives of their choice, on the role of the Application Entity, eligibility, the application process, and relevant community-based services available in the community.
  • provide access to the above information at least twice a year in an appropriate manner, which may include holding group information sessions; and
  • where applicable/possible, use video-conferencing to broadcast information sessions to provide greater access to people who are unable to attend the information sessions in person.

On the Telephone

The Application Entity shall:

  • provide both a local and toll-free number, and a TTY number, that the public can use to request information; and

  • have knowledgeable staff available Monday to Friday during standard business hours to answer the telephone.

During business hours, when the telephone cannot be immediately answered, the Application Entity shall:

  • provide an alternate number for immediate assistance; and
  • activate a standard pre-recorded voicemail message that provides the name of the Application Entity, hours of operation for that day, and if relevant, any walk-in hours.

Outside of business hours or during extended staff absences, the Application Entity shall:

  • activate a standard pre-recorded voicemail message that explains the basic functions of the Application Entity and provides telephone numbers for emergency services.

Email

The Application Entity shall:

  • where resources do not allow for an immediate response to emails, create a standard auto-reply email that will tell the sender that his/her email has been received and that a response is being prepared.

Website

The Application Entity shall have its own website (i.e. URL) that will:

  • have the same branding as other Application Entities in the province including common core information and language;
  • post clearly visible and complete contact information for all office locations within the region which includes names, office addresses, email addresses, local telephone numbers, and toll-free numbers;
  • publish business hours of operation for directly responding to inquiries via telephone, on-line (e-mail) and in person;
  • publish protocols for service, accessibility and French language services;
  • provide a link to the MCSS website, links to the websites of all other regional Application Entities, and links to other relevant websites; this may include providing website space for service agencies to publicize their services.

1This includes health and recreation, faith based/spiritual supports, volunteer opportunities, different life stages, and cultural activities.

2This is not to duplicate services provided by 211 but rather Application Entities should refer individuals to appropriate relevant resources.

3The Application Package comprises the Application for Developmental Services and Supports (ADSS) and the Supports Intensity Scale® (SIS®).