Transforming Ontario's Developmental Services

The decision of the Ontario Government to commence a process of transforming services it funds for people with developmental disabilities is an opportunity for all concerned about present inequities and, more positively, for all to plan and implement better lives in people's home communities.

A Preliminary Discussion Paper was released in late October by the "Joint Developmental
Services Sector Partnership Table."
  • What should be the roles and responsibilities of different parts of society in supporting individuals who have a developmental disability?
  • What strategies and resources would help individuals receive seamless supports throughout their lives, including points of transition?
  • What supports and services that are currently available work well should be built on for the future?
  • How should a reasonable level of government funding for an individual be determined?
  • Services are changing in Ontario for people who have a developmental disability. What would you like to see happen?
  • What do you think are the priorities the government should address?
The partnership table and the government will now review the submissions and propose policy alternatives for that will be the basis for broad public consultations to be completed by Feb/March 2005. It is said that "this very important process will profoundly affect developmental services for many years to come."

Here are some links to resources:
Read the Consultation Paper

b) Gathering Momentum: Mobilizing to Transform Community Living in BC
is a report and assessment of British Columbia's transformation of its community living services from May 2001, in circumstances similar to Ontario's in 2004, in being initiated by a new Liberal government in a period of budget and service cuts. The report identifies strengths and uncovers areas of tension, from which we in Ontario may learn.

John Lord draws out some key lessons for our Ontario transformation process
from his close reading of the report of the BC experience. Click to read John's thoughts
He makes four main points:
i. We must find the levers than can transform the system
ii. We must be sure to build individualized funding with appropriate infrastructure support (especially independent planning/facilitation)
iii. As Ontario may now be interested in phasing in individualized funding, we are challenged to figure out how to do this in an equitable and meaningful way.
iv. We must focus on citizenship and community inclusion, an approach that means capacity building and participation rather than service or placement.
In summary, we must "build principles that all stakeholder groups can understand and work together to implement" and then "be strategic and collaborative in their implementation [which] can only happen if government and community work together the whole way."

d) Keep visiting the site of The Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario
that has a collection of background papers on this subject. For example:
i. Various documents from the IF Workfest in February 2004:
"Ask Me First": Advocacy for Voice and Choice
IF Definitions & Elements
Core Values Enhance IF
Funding Inequities
Gaining Community Agency Support for IF
Families & Individuals Learn to Plan
Getting Facilitators in our Communities
ii. the primer about Individualized Funding
that distinguishes income support and disability, and explains how IF and independent planning work and can help.

iii. Take the individualized funding test (an article originally published on Community Living Leaders):
Key Elements of Individualized Approaches within an Agency Structure

Community Living Ontario: Keys to Transformation

CLO's response to the consultation paper identifies two elements of the new "core business" on which  Developmental Services should focus (click on title to read full CLO document): 
  • enabling the community to include people who have an intellectual disability; and,
  • enabling the person to participate in spite of their disability.
This new core business will shift Developmental Services increasingly away from a primary focus on the provision of programs and services that house and occupy people’s day, to a primary focus on community development, community capacity for social inclusion and providing individual support for community inclusion.

A key recommendation by CLO is that all people who have an intellectual disability should have an entitlement to planning support that should be aimed at:
  • assisting the individual to identify their unique aspirations, abilities and support needs;
  • working with the individual to identify existing family and community relationships and supports that might already exist to support them;
  • working to develop additional opportunities for relationships, participation and support within the community;
  • identifying what supports cannot be provided by family and the community and assisting the individuals to access them;
  • assisting the person to identify and access the government funding necessary to carry out their individual plan.
CLO also responded to the Ministry's indication that it intends to create centres of specialized care to address complex needs of some individuals seeking support and thus to invest in greater capacity for research to ensure that these centres and the rest of the sector benefit from the best knowledge available with respect to innovative ways of supporting people with a disability. The Ministry's suggestion may be interesting and attractive for persons with autism and their families because of the complexity of their challenges and symptoms and the lack of such expertise for adults with autism. CLO considers that such centres would be beneficial to people being supported and to families and those providing support but cautions that these supports should be delivered in community settings, be based on individualized plans, not label or congregate people, and be aimed at providing people the support they need to participate effectively in the community. They should not be conceived of or created as centre or building-based options. They should serve to embed people in their communities and families. These options must also be available widely throughout the province, designed to respond to people in their home community, not based in a few locations to which people are forced to travel.

Read the submission by ARCH A Legal Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities

g) Read the submission by OASIS on behalf of 100 agencies