April 19, 2018

Ontario is testing a new approach to assist youth with disabilities aged 14-29 to fulfill their dreams of working and participating in their communities.

Youth with disabilities face more unemployment and underemployment than almost any other group. According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate for youth with disabilities in Ontario was 30.1% in 2012, compared with 18.0% for youth without disabilities.

Three Ontario communities - Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie and Toronto Golden Mile area - have been selected to host a pilot. Several criteria were used to choose the locations, including:

  • partnerships between Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works offices
  • availability of a range of community resources
  • a diverse geographic profile consisting of urban, rural and northern communities

This summer, youth will begin participating in the pilot, which is part of Access Talent: Ontario’s Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities. Caseworkers who will be participating in the pilot will receive specialized training to help youth with disabilities plan for and achieve employment and community inclusion.

The new collaborative service planning approach will focus on early and ongoing engagement with youth to:

  • identify their goals and barriers to employment
  • develop an action plan to achieve their goals
  • support them as they progress through their plan
  • empower them to achieve their full potential

Staff will work closely with people who play an important role in the youth’s life, such as family members, family friends, mentors and teachers. They will also make active partnerships to ensure youth are able to access a range of supports available to them in their local community, such as mental health services, housing supports, training programs and employment services.

This pilot aligns with Ontario’s multi-year plan for income security reform. The plan will turn social assistance into a more simple, responsive and person-focused service. By simplifying rules, staff can focus more on building relationships with individuals and connecting people to the supports and services they need. This will help provide real opportunities for people to improve their circumstances.

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