April 2021

1.1 Introduction to ODSP Employment Supports

Summary of Directive

This directive provides an introduction to ODSP employment supports, including the roles of ODSP staff, service providers, and clients.

Intent of Policy

To provide a detailed description of ODSP employment supports, including an understanding of the guiding mandate and principles that comprise ODSP employment supports.

Application of Policy

ODSP employment supports is a program that connects people with disabilities to sustainable, competitive employment by providing the supports clients need to get a job, keep the job and, where appropriate, advance in their job.


ODSP employment supports helps people with disabilities increase their economic independence through competitive, sustainable jobs. The program also helps employers meet their business needs by providing supports to hire and retain employees with disabilities.


The following program principles have guided the development of ODSP employment supports. Ministry staff and service providers will ensure that all aspects of the program reflect the following general principles:

Labour Market Focused

  • Service providers undertake marketing and outreach activities to develop placements and employment opportunities with local employers.
  • Clients are made aware of employment opportunities and provided with the employment supports needed to bridge the gap between unemployment and employment.
  • Employment will reflect the current reality of the labour market and can include full-time or part-time employment, self-employment, or membership participation in a business enterprise or contract employment, where the person is earning the equivalent of minimum wage or better.
  • Service providers are remunerated based on their ability to connect people with disabilities with sustainable, competitive employment, retain them in employment and, where appropriate, help the person advance in their job.

Service Accessibility

  • Access to employment supports is simple and timely.
  • Service providers will ensure that employment supports are barrier free.

Client responsibility

  • Participation in the program is voluntary.
  • Clients are responsible for achieving their employment goals.
  • Clients actively participate in identifying work that they are capable of doing and that is available in the labour market, as well as the supports they need to find and maintain employment.


ODSP employment supports is based on a “brokerage” model, where funding is provided to third party service providers who are responsible for placing and retaining employment supports clients in employment and helping those clients increase their level of earnings through job advancement.

Employment supports is an employment placement and retention service where funding to service providers is based on achieving employment results. Funding is directly linked to the employment outcomes of employment supports clients.

ODSP caseworkers are responsible for determining the eligibility of applicants, providing upfront information and orientation sessions to applicants, assisting clients to access the services they need to achieve their employment goals, and monitoring the quality of services.

ODSP employment supports provides funding for a range of supports that are intended to remove disability-related barriers to employment and lead to competitive employment.

Competitive Employment

Competitive employment is broadly defined as employment paying minimum wage or higher in an integrated work setting where people with disabilities work in typical workplace settings alongside people with and without a disability. It can mean conventional employment where there is a typical employee/employer relationship. It can include full-time, part-time, contract, or seasonal employment to recognize the diverse nature of people’s disabilities and how their disabilities may impact their employment.

Competitive employment can also include self-employment or ownership or membership participation in a business enterprise where the objective is to earn at least the equivalent of minimum wage.

For some applicants, competitive employment may not be possible or may not be achievable as an immediate goal. Consequently, information regarding other sources of appropriate support and assistance to improve job readiness will be provided to applicants/clients as available in local communities.

Eligible Goods and Services

ODSP employment supports provides funding to service providers who work with clients to determine what employment-related supports are required to remove barriers to competitive employment and to assist the client in attaining their competitive employment goal. The service provider and the client will jointly decide what goods and/or services are required to place and retain the client in competitive employment.

Regional Offices

Regional offices enter into funding agreements with an extensive network of service providers who assist employment supports clients to access the supports necessary to achieve their competitive employment goal.

Regional offices will monitor the quality and effectiveness of the supports provided to clients by service providers, as well as key outcomes achieved including the number of job placements and the length of time clients are retained in employment.

Regional office staff are responsible for the overall service system management of the program and the coordination of services. Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • ensuring that people with disabilities within the service area, regardless of the nature or extent of their disabilities, have access to ODSP employment supports;
  • negotiating and contracting with service providers and monitoring the quality and effectiveness of services provided to eligible clients;
  • marketing and promotion;
  • managing the regional dispute resolution process;
  • local employer outreach and program marketing to increase awareness of ODSP employment supports and to promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities;
  • collaborating/linking with other related service systems such as Ontario Works and Employment Ontario;
  • evaluating client satisfaction and making improvements to the delivery of services based on the findings of these evaluations; and
  • ensuring accountability.

ODSP Staff

ODSP caseworkers are responsible for determining eligibility for ODSP employment supports and referring employment supports applicants to a service provider. ODSP caseworkers are also responsible for ensuring the people with disabilities have access to supports to assist them to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment.

The key responsibilities of ODSP staff include, but are not limited to:

  • acting as a resource in the areas of training and employment for employment supports clients, ODSP income support recipients, and the community;
  • ensuring local service provider information is accurate, current, accessible and user friendly within the local ODSP office;
  • complying with all legislation, regulations and program directives;
  • determining applicant eligibility for ODSP employment supports;
  • assisting clients (if required) in selecting service providers;
  • coordinating services for applicants and eligible clients with a high degree of professionalism, quality and reliability;
  • recognizing all clients as individuals with unique circumstances who encounter unique barriers in preparing for, obtaining and maintaining employment and providing service in accordance with these unique circumstances;
  • promoting self-direction and prompt service for clients who require a minimum amount of assistance;
  • ensuring the Welcome to ODSP Employment Supports form is completed, and that clients are aware of their obligations while participating in employment supports ;
  • assisting applicants and clients to understand their rights and responsibilities in accessing and maintaining employment in relation to ODSP income supports (e.g., income reporting requirements and the impact of earnings on an ODSP recipient’s income support); assisting clients to deal with service provider issues or employer issues, as needed by the client;
  • directing all applicants who are not eligible and clients who are not able to prepare for competitive employment to other supports and services they may require, as appropriate;
  • processing internal reviews and the regional dispute resolution process; and
  • liaising with service providers, as needed.


Applicants are responsible for providing all documentation required to demonstrate initial and on-going eligibility.

Applicants must intend to and be able to prepare for, obtain and maintain competitive employment. If the client is eligible for similar services from other government or private sector sources, service providers may assist the client to access those services as well, provided there is no duplication in funded services.

Clients are responsible for playing an active role in setting their competitive employment goal.

Clients are accountable for completing the steps necessary to achieve their competitive employment goal as set out in their employment plan.

Service Providers

Service providers are responsible for ensuring that quality goods and services are provided to employment supports clients.  Service providers are also responsible for meeting the job placement and retention targets as outlined in the funding agreement negotiated with the regional offices.

Service providers are required to develop individual employment plans with clients and to make those plans available to the local ODSP office, as requested. These plans will identify the competitive employment goal of the client, as well as the barriers to employment and the key supports and services that will be provided to place and retain the client in employment.

Service providers will work collaboratively and form partnerships with other service providers or employment programs in the community in order to maximize access to the full range of employment services required by clients to get and keep a job.

Service providers will assist applicants and clients to understand their rights and responsibilities in accessing and maintaining employment, including legislation such as the ODSP Act, Ontario Human Rights Code, Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, and Employment Standards Act, and communicating those rights and responsibilities to applicants and clients as required.

As a part of their reporting requirements, service providers will ensure all forms required by the ministry are properly completed, maintain proper client files/records for accountability purposes, and provide regional offices and local ODSP offices with reports and information, including closure reports with re-application conditions, as required/requested.

Service providers will participate in the Dispute Resolution Process, as required.

(See Directive 6.2 Internal Review and Regional Dispute Resolution)

Federal / Provincial WDA Agreement

ODSP employment supports is cost-shared (50/50) with the federal government under the Workplace Development Agreement (WDA). This agreement provides cost-shared funding for provincial programs that assist people with disabilities prepare for, obtain and maintain employment.