Where The Parties Stand#NOTINMYONTARIO
What is each of the political parties saying they will do to support people who have an intellectual or developmental disability and their families if they form government?
As of May 16th, 2018
The Green Party election platform is outlined in Green Vision. Green Vision outlines the party’s promises under three headings: Jobs, People and Planet.
- Introduce a basic income system to ensure that people have an income at or above the poverty line.
- Immediately increase Ontario Disability Support Payment and Ontario Works payments toward rates that match the low-income measure to address the inadequacy of current social programs.
- Increase asset limits for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Payment recipients, with the amount to be indexed to inflation.
- Ensure that social assistance programs are responsive to the needs of people with mental health and addiction-related disabilities through ensuring eligibility criteria recognizes their illness and that payments are not interrupted during times of transition (e.g. hospitalization, incarceration).
- Increase support for special education funding to school boards to address the challenge of meeting the needs of children with learning exceptionalities and mental health issues.
- Increase investments in mental health and addictions services so that patients can obtain the right kind of treatment to support recovery.
- Increase funding for mental health and addictions support for children and youth to reduce wait times and scale up specialized mental health and addictions services.
- Increase funding for applied mental health and addictions research and evaluation of treatment outcomes.
- Use a “housing first” approach to develop dedicated supportive housing for people with mental health and addictions issues, physical disabilities, or acquired brain injuries, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Ensure inmates with mental illness are not put in solitary confinement, and that they are provided with appropriate health care, and clearly articulate a commitment to transfer responsibility for the provision of health care within correctional institutions to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
- Fully implement the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act by preparing an enforcement plan, allocating resources for enforcement and supporting a public awareness campaign.
- Provide an accessibility tax incentive for small businesses to help small businesses modify their facilities to accommodate people with disabilities.
The Liberal Party has not yet released its 2018 election platform. The Liberal agenda is, however, spelled out in the March 28th provincial budget, which was passed on May 8th.
According to the budget, the Liberal Party is committed to do the following if re-elected:
Starting in 2018, Ontario will invest an additional $1.8 billion over three years to expand services for people who have an intellectual or developmental disability. Among the things that will be funded are:
- Expanding direct funding for the Passport program to ensure that more than 40,000 eligible people with an intellectual or developmental disability will receive at least $5,000 per year. As such, this could begin to address the cut in funding that people currently experience when they transition from child to adult services by ensuring at least $5000 in funding through the transition period.
- Funding increase of more than $200 million over three years ($57 million in year one) to community agencies to enhance the capacity of service providers. Community Living Ontario was told by government representatives that the first year funding would include a percentage increase in the second and third year and would represent a $103 million increase in current annualized funding to agencies by the end of three years. We were also told that the government was committed to working with the sector to address other agency pressures such as pay equity, Bill 148 and future wage increases, and that the $200 million increase was for current pressures other than these ongoing items.
- Supporting more than 800 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are inappropriately housed in hospitals, long-term-care homes, sheltered or correctional facilities in moving into suitable, safe homes in their community.
- Encouraging innovative housing solutions at the community level that will increase residential capacity and improve in-home supports, including respite for caregivers to alleviate the challenges associated with full-time care, allowing people to live at home longer.
- Providing resources for case management and planning supports that will help youth access relevant services as they transition to adulthood, including paths to postsecondary education, employment and financial resources.
- Implementing a 24/7 emergency hotline to provide immediate support to people and families with urgent needs and to deploy front-line professionals to prevent crisis situations.
- Strengthening training for policy and frontline justice sector workers to identify and potentially divert people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the justice system, directing them to more appropriate services when needed.
Ontario Disability Support Program
The budget includes a number of changes to benefits associated with the Ontario Disability Support Program. Some of the key changes include:
- Increasing Ontario works and Ontario Disability Support Program rates by three percent annually for the next three years starting in the fall of 2018.
- Increasing other benefits and allowances including Personal Needs Allowances by two percent annually for the next three years starting in the fall of 2018.
- Increasing the amount of employment income that can be earned without impacting benefits to $400 per month from the current $200 per month in the fall of 2018.
- In 2019-20, further raising the amount that can be earned to $6000 per year, calculating exemptions on an annual basis.
- Limits on savings in Tax-Free Savings Accounts or Registered Retirement Savings Plans will be eliminated, starting in September 2018.
- Limits on cash and liquid assets will be fully eliminated for those receiving Ontario Disability Support Program benefits.
- $300 million for special needs education.
The New Democratic Party election platform is outlined in Change for the Better. The document outlines the party’s five priority areas:
- Provide drug and dental coverage for all Ontarians.
- End hallway medicine and fix seniors care.
- Cut hydro bills 30% by bringing Hydro One back in public hands.
- Take on student debt by converting loans to grants and creating thousands of student jobs.
- Protect middle class families by having the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations pay their fair share.
Below are references to disability that are outlined in NDP platform:
- Based on the advice of the working group, people receiving Ontario Works will receive increases of 10%, 7% and 5%, while people receiving support from the Ontario Disability Support Program will see annual increases of 5%. Future increases will be based on income adequacy, and set by an independent panel.
- The NDP will continue Ontario’s Basic Income pilot and evaluate its outcomes. The NDP endorses the call to develop a minimum income standard over the next decade that will lift people out of poverty.
- The NDP will fully implement the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
- Those with disabilities will no longer have to re-apply for supports when they turn 18.
- The NDP will earmark affordable housing units for Ontarians with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
- The NDP’s investment in 30,000 units of supportive housing will give adults who have developmental disabilities access to housing that ensures they can live rich lives with more independence.
- The NDP will invest $67 million annually in increasing support for agencies that provide services to adults with develop- mental disabilities so they can participate in their communities, have options for public services, and have a great quality of life.
- The NDP will launch a comprehensive autism-support strategy, built in collaboration with parents, caregivers, experts and people with autism.
- The NDP will base special education funding on actual needs, not overall populations, with timely needs assessments. This will mean overall funding increases for students with special educational needs, helping schools, teachers, paraprofessionals and education assistants give these children the support they need.
- The NDP will build on Ontario’s Provincial and Demonstration schools’ track record of success, especially in helping students who are deaf, blind or deaf-blind, and students with severe learning disabilities who need greater support and lift the cap on classes.
The Progressive Conservative Party has no detailed platform announced as of yet and nothing in relation to the developmental services sector, people who have an intellectual or developmental disability, their families and community agencies.
Party leader Doug Ford has promised to do the following:
- Freeze minimum wage at $14
- Eliminate provincial income tax for minimum-wage earners
- Scrap cap-and-trade and oppose any carbon tax to curb climate change
- Re-open sex-education curriculum debate
- Fire Mayo Schmidt, the president and CEO of Hydro One, due to his $6 million-a-year-salary
YOUR VOTE COUNTS
Historically, children and adults who had an intellectual or developmental disability were placed in institutions and in the care of the province, often for decades. There were few opportunities for people to be involved within their community. They were segregated and there were many instances of emotional, physical and sexual abuse committed against the residents who lived there.
In 2009, the province closed the institutions. However, the government has failed to provide many of the supports needed to assist people to live in the community. As a result, the supports normally provided by families, friends and neighbours are being unreasonably stretched to compensate for the government not fulfilling its commitments.
A patchwork of funding, supports and services does exist in Ontario, but access to these supports is often not enough and arbitrary, and the government is falling behind in addressing the needs of people who it has deemed eligible for support:
- 73% of working age adults with an intellectual disability who live on their own are living in poverty, compared to 23% of those in the same age cohorts among the general population.
- Children lose funding for supports for no other reason than turning 18. They must reapply for funding as adults with no guarantee of when or how much they will receive.
- The Ministry of Community and Social Services anticipates the waitlist for adult support funding will reach 11,000 by April of 2018.
- The waitlist for residential services sits at 11,000, and it is common that adults wait more than 20 years for a home of their own.
- For nearly ten years, many community agencies that support children and adults have not received any new funding to address operational pressures other than sporadic, modest increases for staff wages and to address recent changes to the Employment Standards Act.
Should people who have an intellectual disability, who may be your family member, your friend, and your neighbour be treated in this way as residents of Ontario?
Should families have to be in crisis in order to be heard?
We say ‘No!’ and others agree:
The Select Committee on Developmental Services, an all-party committee that was formed in 2013, stated there was a crisis then. Among the recommendations listed in its final report, Inclusion and Opportunity: A new Path for Developmental Services in Ontario, the committee stated that all people have a right to appropriate and timely supports throughout their lives. It also called for the end to waitlists.
The Ontario Ombudsman investigated 1,400 complaints from people and families, beginning in 2012. Paul Dubé made 60 recommendations to address the crisis facing people and families in his 2016 report, Nowhere to Turn.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada ratified in 2010, lays out what the government is obligated to provide to people. The Province of Ontario has yet to implement many of the rights outlined in the Convention.
During a town hall meeting in Windsor on February 15th, 2018, Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged the need for a long-term plan.
It is time for meaningful, coordinated change and thoughtful leadership from the province.
We call on the next government to make people who have an intellectual disability a priority in Ontario and develop a plan of action with community stakeholders to implement solutions that will:
- End the cycle of poverty among people who have an intellectual or related disability.
- End waitlists for residential supports.
- End waitlists for child and adult funding support.
- Provide transition funding to youth entering adulthood.
- Provide operational funding for community agencies.
- Ensure services and supports are mandated so, regardless of where a person lives in Ontario or the government of the day, people who have an intellectual can get what is required to participate fully in the community.
- Communicate how supports and services are available to people who have an intellectual disability and their support network (families, friends or others who have a deep connection with the person).
We thank you in advance for supporting Community Living Ontario and its allies in ensuring that all Ontarians be able to participate fully in their community.