Since the Final Report of the Select Committee on Developmental Services was tabled in July 22 2014, has anything been done? Has Minister Jazek followed through on any of her six promises?

Monique Taylor, one of the Committee members, addressed the legislative assembly of Ontario. Here, in part, are her words:

“I am proud of the work that’s being tabled today (July 22, 2014). I look forward to the government response to our recommendations. I am hopeful that our recommendations will be implemented and not used as a political football but as a plan that will make fundamental changes in the lives of those the system serves. They are amongst the most vulnerable in our province and they deserve to have stability in their future.”

The last two of six promises in Minister Jazek’s report:

  • Support agencies and front-line workers in the community services sector, and
  • Promote innovation so that any savings can be re-invested into improving services

All of Minister Jazeks promises and particularly these two, feed directly into the Committee’s central recommendation – that a new Inter-Ministerial Committee on Developmental Services (IMCDS) be created with the mandate of implementing the recommendations in the Final Report. The Minister of Community and Social Services should be answerable for the progress of the IMCDS and the implementation of the recommendations in the Final Report. The IMCDS should also make regular progress reports to the Legislative Assembly. [1]

I have sent Monique Taylor an email asking if any action has taken place. While I wait for her response, sources tell me that the lion’s share of the $810 million is going to Passport and Support Services at Home. Not necessarily a bad thing – it addresses some of the concerns in the report. However, the crisis is so wide and so deep it would take millions more to address all the recommendations.

Given the enormity of the issues, a provincial deficit of $19B and a stalled economy, progress will be incremental and very slow and will be measured in different ways by different stakeholders. Government would say they are on it; people who just received funding would say there’s been progress and the have-nots will say not enough is being done.

Plus, there continues to be a delay with regards to releasing funding for enhancing the wages of direct support workers. OPSEU has called for strikes at several community living associations because they are (understandably) frustrated with the time this is taking. The money for direct support workers in health and long-term care has already come through. This has caused tension within some organizations who are funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care as well as the Ministry of Community and Social Services – one set of workers getting raises and another set of workers waiting.

Couldn’t the MHLTC and MCSS have seen this coming?

Who’s got the ball?

 

 

 

Sources:

Legislature of Ontario, July 22 session

Jim Triantafilou, Executive Director, Brampton Caledon Community Living

Minister Jazek, July 22, 2014 Statement

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Legislature of Ontario, Final Report of the Select Committee on Developmental Services

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Minister Jaczek’s Plan for the $810 Million

On August 8, 2014, I commented on the Final Report of the Select Committee on Developmental Services. I addressed Minister Jaczek’s statement of July 22, 2014, specifically the first two initiatives on her list of six that she suggests would be strengthened by the investment of $810 million over the next three years.

• Expand direct funding to serve 21,000 more individuals and families, and help eliminate the existing waitlists for Special Services at Home (SSAH) in two years and Passport in four years
• Provide support for urgent residential needs for approximately 1,400 people

I take issue with the Ministry’s ability to serve individuals and their families. The Select Committee expressed frustration at the lack of available, reliable data in almost every area of the developmental services sector. Plus, there is no coordinated data collection amongst the ten ministries involved in providing developmental services. (Page 7, Final Report)

The Select Committee recommends a new Inter-Ministerial Committee of Developmental Services (IMCDS) be created with the mandate of implementing the recommendations in their report. The IMCDS would be comprised of nine established stakeholders: Minister of Child and Youth Services, Minister of Health and Long Term Care and seven others. (Page 5)

To accomplish Minister Jaczek’s list of promises, the IMCDS is the only body that can systematically and collectively address the issues.

This brings me to the next two items on Minister Jaczek’s list:

• Support young adults as they navigate key life transitions such as going to school or getting a job (Pages 17, 20)
• Promote community living partnerships through expanded Host Family and Supported Independent Living programs (Page 18)

These items sound good and seem to address key areas of need in the province of Ontario. However, we must look realistically and honestly at everyone in need.

The statement “support young adults as they navigate key life transitions such as going to school or getting a job” fails to address the day support needs of thousands of adults for whom post-secondary education or employment is not an option or a goal. A serious gap identified by the Select Committee was a lack of affordable, quality day programs for adults. (Pages 17, 20)

The Final Report recommendation 46 states that the IMCDS collaborate with families and community agencies to develop and support locally-based day programs which must be affordable and regionally available, and tailored for a range of age groups, interests, activity levels and needs.

Minister Jaczek’s next item: “Promote community living partnerships through expanded Host Family and Supported Independent Living programs” also does not address all Ontarians with a developmental disability. (Page 18)

Supported Independent Living and Host Families may work well for some people with a disability but other supportive housing models are and will be needed to address the broad spectrum of need in the community, including people who have profound or significant physical, cognitive, and mental health needs.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) has been avoiding more costly “bricks and mortar” solutions; averse to putting money into group homes and day support facilities. And, into making these important options flexible in the case of family crisis and emergency.

Alastair Lamb, Assist Exec Director, Ongwanada, Kingston, posted to my blog after the August 8 article: “…In the words of Peter Drucker, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’. Not only does the government not have these data, but has no reliable mechanism to capture them…”

The Committee kept returning again and again to data collection.

“Comprehensive data related to the demand for and provision of developmental services from across Ministries, DSO’s (Developmental Services Ontario) and service agencies, be collected, harmonized and shared within and beyond the sector.” (Page 7)

The province has to begin at the obvious starting point: DSO’s should be given the resources and expertise to collect and share these data. I’d love to see the results.

Only then can the province address the gaps in service that have created a crisis for many people with a developmental disability and a mental illness in Ontario and their families.

Sources:
Select Committee on Developmental Services Final Report
Jim Triantafilou, Executive Director, Brampton Caledon Community Living
Alastair Lamb, Assist.Exec. Director, Ongwanada

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