Plight of People with a Developmental Disability in Ontario, Part Two

by Donna Kirk on September 3, 2014

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.

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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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherry Isaac September 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Donna, you continue to impress me with your determination as well as your thorough understanding and insights. You are a champion. Keep up the good fight.


Donna Kirk September 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Thanks Sherry. Your support is important.


Jeff Wilson September 5, 2014 at 10:17 am

Donna, I just wanted to say thanks for calling out this out. As a parent of a child with Aspergers, it seems at times the government and school system is at best indifferent and at worst opposed to any kind of meaningful support. For 6 years we have tried to get speech therapy for our oldest son who has severe speech and audio processing issues to no avail. My younger son was just granted CCAC resources through the school board within a year for a minor lisp.

Meaningful action is what is required, not more committees and more rhetoric.


Donna Kirk September 5, 2014 at 10:56 am

Thanks Jeff. Your support is what keep me after the issues that are so important to our kids and ourselves, as parents. This injection of $810 million, and the Special Committee Report is the best opportunity our sector has had in years. I’m trying to send my two blogs directly to the minister.


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