The 2018 Ontario Budget included an additional investment of $1.8 billion over three years for developmental services, the largest single investment in the province’s history.

As part of this investment, $300 million over three years will be provided to support agencies to continue the delivery of high-quality services to individuals and their families. That includes $55 million in funding in 2018-19 to assist agencies and families to manage some of the costs associated with the benefits of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.

An investment in the Passport program which provides direct funding for adults with developmental disabilities to live more independently and become involved in their communities is also beginning in 2018-19. For the first time in the province’s history, every eligible adult with a developmental disability, including youth turning 18 and transitioning to adult services, will get at least $5,000 a year of direct funding through the Passport Program.

The change will mean that roughly 42,000 new people will receive support by 2020/2021. This will create more stability for people and families across Ontario by providing supports that help people participate in the communities and give caregivers a break from their caregiving roles.

Other changes include:

    • Providing much needed relief and in-home support to hardworking caregivers so that up to 900 adults with a developmental disability can live with their families longer
    • Creating new residential spots through capital investment
    • Expanding residential supports, including assisting more than 800 people currently in hospitals, long-term care homes, shelters or correctional facilities find new, more appropriate and safe homes - where they can receive the right support to suit their needs and have more meaningful opportunities to participate in their communities
    • Increasing resources to help youth plan for their transition to adulthood, including paths to postsecondary education and employment
    • Creating a new 24-7 emergency hotline to give more immediate support to individuals and families who may need urgent assistance, and to better help manage crisis situations
    • Enabling adults with developmental disabilities to receive the right kinds of care and services with specialized training for police and justice sector professionals

These investments show the continued commitment to help all people with developmental disabilities be fully included in their communities.

Easier Service System Navigation and Access

We are making it easier for people and families to get the information they need to work toward personal goals, needs and dreams.

  • A $12.5 million investment aimed at improving access to services, including:
    • additional Adult Protective Service Workers (APSWs), who support adults with developmental disabilities living on their own by providing help with their everyday living needs, accessing community resources, and setting and achieving personal goals
    • funding for Family Support Networks, to connect families and caregivers to one another and to appropriate supports and services as well as assist in providing training, education, mentoring and future planning
    • expanding service navigation, which will help people and their families to find services and supports available within their community

All of the initiatives in this investment are aimed at better connecting people with developmental disabilities and their families to local supports, programs and resources.

  • Making access to services easier - Young people with developmental disabilities seeking government-funded adult developmental services and supports, as well as employment and income support from Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), were once required to prove their developmental disability twice. The application process for young people and their families applying for ODSP has now been simplified. So once a person is deemed eligible for ministry-funded adult developmental services, they will no longer have to go through a second process to verify their disability to qualify for ODSP.
  • Providing assistance through Income Security Reform - The proposed plan will immediately benefit about 75,000 adults with developmental disabilities who rely on ODSP. For example, starting this year:
    • Adults with developmental disabilities who live with their parents will now get higher basic needs and shelter supports instead of lodging rates - the difference between current maximum basic needs and shelter versus board and lodge rates is $270 per month for a single person receiving ODSP.
    • Individuals who are working will be able to earn $400 per month without reducing their assistance - that is double the current earnings exemption.
    • Asset limits will be fully eliminated for those receiving ODSP
    • Individuals on ODSP will have access to mandatory vision and hearing benefits
  • Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) funding for MyCommunityHub - an online registration space for people and their families to browse various community activities including, employment readiness training, recreational classes and  programming, workshops, respite and camps offered by developmental service agencies.

Collaboration and Cross-Sector Partnerships

We are working with ministry partners to improve service coordination, transitions and planning within and across sectors.

  • Joint MCSS/MOHLTC dual diagnosis framework - We are working to address the need for greater coordination and integration of health and developmental services supports for people with a dual diagnosis (a developmental disability and mental health challenges).
  • Joint MCSS/Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) Long-Term Care Home Guidelines - Launched in October 2017, the Guidelines improve knowledge, planning and service coordination within and between developmental services and the long-term care home sector.
  • Addition of 40 mental health workers - working with MOHLTC to increase the number of mental health court support workers in the province. These workers will provide services to vulnerable people, such as those with mental illness, developmental disabilities or dual diagnosis who are in conflict with the law.
  • Caring for adults with developmental disabilities with complex needs - in collaboration with MOHLTC, we’ve taken steps to better protect the health and well-being of those with complex and urgent needs, in addition to providing them with improved supports and services.
  • Updating Ontario’s Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy - introducing legislative and policy measures, and investing $178 million over three years, to ensure that all Ontarians, including those with developmental disabilities, have access to affordable and adequate housing.

Prevention Services and Supports 

We are working to ensure safe and secure environments and experiences for adults who rely on Ontario’s developmental services system.

  • Advocates Against Abuse - province-wide educational program where people with disabilities educate other people with disabilities about protecting themselves, knowing when to report or communicate that an incident has occurred.
  • Policy Directives for the LifeShare (Host Family) Program - improved requirements for agencies funded to provide the LifeShare Program, aimed at promoting the safety and security of adults with developmental disabilities who live with a host family.
  • Ontario.ca/ReportON - a 24/7 telephone line, email address and TTY service to provide the public with an avenue to report allegations of abuse and/or neglect of adults with a developmental disability. ReportON was launched in March 2016 and since that time has received over 200 allegations of abuse and/or neglect reported by people with lived experiences, health and education professionals, first responders, DS workers, family members, and concerned citizens.
  • Developmental Disabilities Justice Toolkit - Ontario funded the expansion of an innovative toolkit, which is a practical resource designed for the justice sector to increase awareness and provide information and practical tips for identifying and communicating effectively with people with developmental disabilities.
  • Introduction of the Compliance Inspection Framework (2016) - Strengthening of our inspection oversight for residential services and other developmental services delivered by agencies that are funded under the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act (SIPDDA). This includes enhanced follow-up timelines, annual inspections, more resources and a requirement to post the results of inspections at agency locations. Since the framework was introduced, the number of non-compliances identified during annual agency inspections has decreased by approximately 65% and the amount of time needed for agencies to come into compliance after an inspection has gone down approximately 87%.

Flexibility, Choice and Inclusion

We are moving towards building communities where all people are respected, included and empowered to achieve their full potential by:

  • Supporting New Housing Solutions - provided funding to a growing group of more than 10 developmental services agencies (the Intentional Community Consortium) to develop inclusive, community-based housing options for adults with developmental disabilities. In addition, we’re creating new residential spots through capital investments and by working in creative partnerships with families and agencies. We will also be providing support for more than 800 people with developmental disabilities living in hospitals, shelters and long-term care homes to find new, more appropriate, safe homes in their communities.
  • Multi-Year Residential Planning (MYRP) strategy investments - invested $5 million in repairs, renovations and improved living spaces at residential properties across the province since 2016-17 that has supported 117 individuals through increased capacity.
  • Ontario.ca/LifeShare - partnering with community agencies, to launch an awareness and marketing campaign promoting the LifeShare (Host Family) program and expanding the number of potential new host family providers.

Engagement and Community Partnerships

Working with people, families, caregivers and agencies to create inclusive opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.

  • Shifting from Sheltered Workshops to Inclusion - MCSS supports the transition away from sheltered workshops, and similar programs, towards more inclusive options, including community participation supports and competitive employment for individuals with developmental disabilities..
  • ConnectABILITY - a website and virtual community dedicated to lifelong learning and support for people who have a developmental disability, their families and support networks.
  • Access Talent, a provincial employment strategy for people with disabilities - breaking down employment barriers for people with disabilities through a strategy to connect more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs and more employers to new talent to help grow their businesses.
  • Regional Engagement Sessions - "What We Heard" - a summary of all of the important ideas, suggestions, and comments from people, families and service providers who attended these sessions.
  • Developmental Service Housing Task Force - The Ministry provided approximately $5.6 million to fund 18 demonstration projects recommended by the Task Force, which provided housing for 76 people. The community-based projects provide creative, inclusive and cost-effective housing solutions for adults with developmental disabilities. The report from the Task Force, which will inform the ministry’s decisions on which of the projects can possibly be expanded in other parts of the province, will be released later this year. In September 2017, the province announced its commitment to continue funding these projects support people who are now living in their new, individualized housing arrangements.
  • Developmental Services Performance Measurement Framework - A quality improvement tool intended to help the ministry assess whether services and supports are achieving their goals, as well as where improvement is needed. Diverse perspectives, including those of people with developmental disabilities, families, caregivers and service providers, were incorporated in the development of this framework. The ministry will continue to engage broadly across the sector as data collection tools are developed and implemented.
  • Developmental Services Research Grant Fund - The Developmental Services Research Grant Fund was established in 2012 by the Ministry of Community and Social Services as a way of enhancing research capacity across the developmental services sector that helps inform policy making. In total, the 2017 DS Research Grant provided $400,000 per year over two years for research in priority areas. Recipients were announced in our November edition of the DS Spotlight.