February is Inclusive Education Month. To acknowledge the importance of inclusive education in all classrooms, we will be posting information and videos on our website every Friday of the month. Please keep posted for our weekly updates.
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s recent analysis of the province’s welfare program for the disabled has added more fuel to fears that cuts are coming for those who rely on the program’s meagre supports.
The auditor’s findings that the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) caseload has increased by 50 per cent in the past decade while costs have soared by 75 per cent have also caught the attention of Todd Smith, minister for children, community and social services, who says the report “shows we need to do something.”
But Lysyk’s report ignores the basic premise of the exercise.
The essential job of Ontario’s auditor general is to review each ministry’s books against the backdrop of their estimates and business plans. These public documents tell the world what ministries plan to spend and what they are going to do with their allocations.
Government intentions in these offerings are always fraught with political aspirations and spending that is usually higher than forecast. This provides the auditor more than enough grist to slam almost every ministry reviewed in a relentless and ongoing audit cycle.
In the case of ODSP, encased as it is in a bewildering network of brittle rules, it is impossible for both recipients and administrators alike to keep from constantly breaking them.
ODSP also suffers from the bad rap of supposedly unsustainable increases.
Yet here we have a program that increases organically from cuts in other disability programs (workers’ compensation, veterans’ programs, private sector disability plans) at the same time as its demographics resemble the growing and aging population that it mirrors. ODSP is also the safety net for all other disability income programs and when they tighten their belts. Higher ODSP caseloads are inevitable.
ODSP should be increasing in numbers and cost more than it has.
The true story is that the increases in ODSP costs actually represent a cut in overall service and benefits over the long haul.
What Lysyk should have done was look at the essential context of demographics, the hydraulics of program disinvestment and increases in both the diagnosis and prevalence of disabilities in the modern world. She could have noted a higher prevalence and improved diagnoses of spectrum disorder conditions, such as PTSD and autism.
She also could have told Ontarians that ODSP benefits have declined by approximately 1 per cent per year to inflation over the last 25 years.
The auditor general could have been critical of successive governments since the 1970s when it was Bill Davis’ policy under the GAINS (Guaranteed Annual Income System) to pay low income seniors and people with disabilities identical monthly sums.
She could have noted that today’s needy senior takes home over $1,700 per month in seniors benefits while ODSP maximizes at about $1,300. It would take a hefty 31 per cent hike in benefits for low income persons with disabilities to realize what their older counterparts receive today.
Nothing stops the auditor general from writing insightful and helpful reports, yet they choose to be limited to what’s called the law of the instrument (give a 5-year-old boy a hammer and everything he sees is a nail).
In this case, give a bean counter a spreadsheet and all she sees is more beans to count. None of this helps people with disabilities or the people who administer the program. It just makes life harder.
Maybe someday, some government will subject an auditor general to a “value for money” audit. But I suspect that may be a long way off as this officer of parliament, in particular, enjoys near oracle status in today’s modern government ecosystem.
John Stapleton is Innovations Fellow at the Metcalf Foundation and a former social assistance policy analyst with the Ontario government.
Les personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle ne peuvent plus subir de coupures, avertissent les travailleurs de première ligne
Developmental Services workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), held a press conference at Queen’s Park to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the tenth anniversary of Ontario’s transition from institution-based developmental services to a community living model. They warned the Ford government that chronic underfunding and cuts to services are leaving people with developmental disabilities isolated from their communities… Click on link below for full article
The Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS) issued a media release today critical of the Ontario government hiring a consultant to look at ways to cut costs in developmental services. Read more…
Click on link to read report: https://bramptoncaledoncl.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/OASIS-Press-Release-November-12-2019-1.pdf
Le gouvernement de l'Ontario cherche un entrepreneur pour réduire les coûts des services aux personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle
Un contrat à la recherche de soumissionnaires cherche un consultant en gestion pour trouver des moyens de «rationaliser» la prestation de services à 40 000 adultes vulnérables vivant avec une déficience intellectuelle. Lire la suite…
Veuillez cliquer sur le lien pour le rapport complet: https://globalnews.ca/news/6151901/ontario-developmental-services-cut-cost/
The provincial government’s announcement that it will create a needs-based autism plan for families in Ontario is receiving mixed reviews.
“I’m very encouraged, but I’m also cautious,” said Tara Bourgeois, of Brampton, who is the mother of an 8-year-old boy who has autism. “We’re getting a lot of talk but no action.”
After six months of protests from families over cuts to autism services, Children, Community and Social Services Minister Todd Smith announced Tuesday (July 29) the province will continue to provide continuity of service while the ministry works on a new program for autism services.
The province said it will invest an additional $278 million in Ontario’s autism program, bringing the total amount to $600 million each year.
Come January, Brampton single-father of autistic boy will have to pay over $55,000 out of his pocket to cover critical treatment.
‘Significantly impacted’: Nearly 300 ErinoakKids employees receive layoff notices due to autism funding overhaul
“Ensuring the Ontario Autism Program is needs-based will help families that require specialized care for their children,” Mississauga Centre MPP Natalia Kusendova said in a statement. “We must work together to protect the sustainability of the program so that it can support children and families today and in the future.”
However, the new program will not be in place until April 2020.
“Some of these people have been waiting two to four years,” said Bourgeois. “Many families, unfortunately, will likely be unhappy as they continue to wait for therapy. I feel their agony as I’ve been on a wait list before.”
This is an unreasonably slow time frame, according to the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC). In the meantime, the OAC said parents are being told childhood budget cheques will continue to be issued to families on the wait-list, even though there is agreement a one-size-fits-all approach is wrong.
“It’s tidy in terms of administration,” said Bruce McIntosh, past-president of OAC. “It’s based on the province’s needs and not families.”
Although the province says there are now 25,000 families on the waiting list for services, McIntosh said there is no way to determine exactly how many families are waiting because of privacy laws.
McIntosh said some families have registered their child in different regions to expedite access to services. He’s heard of some parents who have joint custody of a child registering the child twice.
Bourgeois is fortunate her son will get an additional six months of therapy. But what happens to parents of children who have other disabilities, such as Down syndrome, asked Bourgeois? “They are left in the dust.”
In August, OAC will hold another round of protests outside MPPs’ offices. McIntosh said the message is “hurry the hell up” and get the program up and running.