On March 28, 2018, Ontario Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, announced important changes relevant to people with intellectual disabilities, their families, and Developmental Services agencies as part of the 2018 Ontario budget. This important news comes at a time when funding available to agencies has been limited mainly to short-term grants over the past ten years. The absence of core funding increases has meant that organizations have lost ground to rising costs and inflationary pressures for a full decade. You can also read a more detailed analysis provided by Community Living Ontario.
The Ontario budget addressed several key initiatives that are important to LiveWorkPlay, to the individuals we support, and to hundreds of other organizations and thousands of families across the province:
- More than $200 million is being provided over three years to over 350 community-based agencies, a step towards long-term sustainability of the sector. This will help LiveWorkPlay continue to be a leader in demonstrating inclusive outcomes here in Ottawa, and also working with others across the province (like Community Living Ontario and From Presence To Citizenship) for positive change.
- Expanding direct funding to the Passport program which provides funding for supports for people with intellectual disabilities. These funds are provided directly to individuals/families who can then purchase the supports that they need (including support from LiveWorkPlay and other agencies).
- Resources to support the transition from youth to adulthood – this is a strategic priority for LiveWorkPlay, knowing that there is a significant challenge for individuals and families who worry about their options following the completion of high school. Our staff work with young adults to support them in accessing relevant services as they transition to adulthood, including paths to post-secondary education, housing, employment and financial resources.
- Encouraging innovative housing supports – LiveWorkPlay has worked with social housing, non-profit housing, and private landlords to increase housing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and were the leaders of a successful project in partnership with Multifaith Housing Initaitive. There is much more to be done, and LiveWorkPlay can contribute to the ongoing progressive discourse about person-centred approaches. Using a “Just Enough Support” process helps individuals and families find the right balance of independence with the help they need to live the life of their choosing.
There were also additional funding announcements, including specific autism services and supports in schools.
Funds will also be allocated towards increasing employment income that can be earned without an impact on disability benefits. This income will rise to $400 per month from the current $200 per month, beginning in the fall of 2018. This is great news, as LiveWorkPlay has exceeded our employment targets in our first year as ODSP Employment Supports providers, and this means every individual who is now working will be keeping a bit more of their employment income. This in turn provides them with more options in their daily living.