By Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer
On September 2 the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) announced changes to Special Services at Home (SSAH) funding and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) applications.
SSAH provides funding to families who have children labelled with developmental disabilities. This funding can be used to purchase services and supports for the child and services such as respite for the family. Under the changes announced by the Ministry, families who receive SSAH funding will no longer have to re-apply every year for this funding. Instead, a familys SSAH funding will be automatically renewed each year until their child with a disability turns 18. The Ministry has stated that if a familys circumstances change, they should contact their regional MCSS office.
The changes announced also mean that people labelled with intellectual disabilities who are eligible for developmental services and supports will not have to prove their disability for a second time when they apply for ODSP benefits.
The Ministry stated that these changes are part of Ontarios commitment to providing integrated supports and services that best meet people’s needs with seamless transition at key life and care stages.
(endnote 1) The changes may well have been motivated by the recent release of the Ontario Ombudsmans report, Nowhere to Turn. The report was the culmination of almost 4 years of investigation into the Ministrys handling of situations in which adults labelled with developmental disabilities and their families found themselves in crisis because the developmental services system was not able to respond appropriately to their needs. The Ombudsmans report concluded that the Ministrys handling of these situations was unreasonable and wrong. 60 recommendations were made for improving the developmental services system. To read the Ombudsmans full report go to Ombudsmans Full Report or copy and paste https://goo.gl/3gp7Pk .
ARCH, in partnership with People First Ontario, wrote an accessible, clear language response to the Ombudsmans report. To read our response go to or copy and paste: http://www.archdisabilitylaw.ca/node/1151 .
ARCH hopes that the changes to SSAH and ODSP announced by the Ministry are the first of many more improvements the Ministry will make to developmental services in Ontario.
1 MCSS, Ontario Making Access to Services Easier for People with Developmental Disabilities, 2 September 2016, available online: https://news.ontario.ca/mcss/en/2016/09/ontario-making-access-to-services-easier-for-people-with-developmental-disabilities.html