Mandate letter progress: Community and Social Services
The Minister’s response letter to Premier Wynne, outlining the results achieved on key mandate priorities in 2014-15.
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January 11, 2016
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
In September 2014, you gave me a mandate as Minister of Community and Social Services to focus our efforts on transforming social assistance and developmental services and to collaborate on shared responsibilities across government. I am honoured to serve you and the people of Ontario as we work to achieve this mandate, and am pleased to provide you with a report on the progress we have made.
Social Assistance Reform
Maintaining an effective social safety net for our most vulnerable citizens is necessary to build strong communities. Key progress in this area includes investing about $100 million annually to further increase social assistance rates and put more money into the hands of those with the greatest need. In fall 2015, the social assistance rate increases announced in the 2015 Budget came into effect, which means:
- Single adults, without children, on Ontario Works, receive $900 more this year than they did three years ago.
- Monthly support for a couple where both adults have disabilities and receive assistance from the Ontario Disability Support Program went up from $1,796 to $1,866 over those same three years.
In addition to immediate investments, we continue to work toward long-term, comprehensive reform of social assistance, guided by the principles of adequacy, simplicity, fairness and a strong incentive to work.
Collaboration will be key to success. We have been collaborating with other ministries, specifically with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Children and Youth Services, in an effort to provide benefits to more Ontarians by moving them outside of social assistance, including the integration of low-income dental benefits into the Healthy Smiles Ontario program as of January 1, 2016.
We have also placed a renewed focus on strengthening partnerships in the community. Informal outreach completed over the past year has made it clear that further engagement on the specifics of reform are necessary, and we plan to begin more formal consultations in the coming months.
Transforming Developmental Services
In the developmental services sector, we remain committed to achieving our vision of advancing the principles of independence, inclusion and choice. Ontarians with developmental disabilities are doing better today as a result of our investment of $810 million over three years.
Progress in this area includes:
- Providing new funding to more than 8,000 children with support through the Special Services at Home Program, in just eight months — well ahead of the two years stated in our Budget commitment.
- Approving new Passport funding to more than 6,000 adults on the 2014 waitlist.
- Providing new residential services for 533 people with urgent needs.
- Beginning a project that will enable 1,100 individuals to create person-directed plans.
- Launching 12 creative housing demonstration projects through the work of the Housing Task Force.
- Supporting 38 Employment and Modernization Fund proposals to promote employment and modernize services.
While there has been significant progress to date in transforming developmental services, it is not complete. Longer-term transformation is still needed. We look forward to working with you on our continuing and future priorities:
- Addressing growth in the demand for services, particularly residential supports.
- Meeting the need for increasingly complex care needs.
- Continuing to answer calls for more client-centred, individualized supports.
Collaborating on Shared Responsibilities Across Government
Here are some examples of the work that is currently underway in my ministry, as we continue to collaborate on shared responsibilities across government:
- Working with partners to end violence against women to develop Ontario’s first set of Emergency Shelter Standards, which will ensure that women and children fleeing violence have access to consistent, high-quality services. Their advice in this area was critical to achieving success.
- Protecting professionalism and quality service by launching a two-year Social Worker and Social Service Worker Professional Development Fund.
- Investing more than $10 million to help reduce family violence and improve healing, health and wellness in Aboriginal communities across Ontario.
We have also moved to improve, stabilize and professionalize our developmental and community services capacity. An historic agreement was reached in December 2014 by employer representatives, union representatives and representatives from non-unionized agencies on a provincial framework for local negotiations. In addition, $200 million of our $810 million was allocated for increased funding for front-line workers.
We are also working across government to promote a seamless experience for people, including improving life transitions for people with developmental disabilities and modernizing employment services.
In all of these areas, we are working to build Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills. I look forward to another year of progress towards fulfilling this ministry’s mandate and advancing the priorities of our government.
Dr. Helena Jaczek
|Mandate Letter Commitment||Progress to Date|
|Provide support to vulnerable Ontarians. You will concentrate on those in financial need — and on people with disabilities and other special needs — so they can participate in our economy and communities.|
|You will also continually engage users of the system and the broader social services sector to identify areas of improvement. Changes will be supported by evidence-based policy and appropriate metrics to measure our progress to ensure transparency and accountability to the people of Ontario.|
|Driving long-term transformation of the social assistance system. I ask that the changes you implement promote greater independence by improving incomes, encouraging work and enhancing access to core supports outside the social assistance system. You will work with stakeholders, municipalities and other ministries to revise key benefits to improve the accountability and integrity of the social assistance system.|
|Continuing to transform the delivery of developmental services in Ontario to help adults with developmental disabilities and their families live as independently as possible. This transformation will provide choice and flexibility through direct funding — and within the existing transfer payment agencies and residential services system.|
|Seeking support from the federal government where their action is required to help transform the social assistance system, including working together to provide services to vulnerable Ontarians.|
|Collaborating with other ministries so that, wherever possible, people using government programs and services can interact seamlessly when a service that your ministry delivers is handed off to another government sector.|
|Collaborating with other ministers to align services to provide better support for youth transitions and managing complex needs.|
|Improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. You will do so in partnership with the enhancements that the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities is making to the employment and training system — and with the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure’s engagement with employers.|
|Working with developmental service agencies to modernize service delivery and continuing to promote the provision of supports that are high-quality, cost-effective and person-centred.|
|Support: Supporting the work of the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy in implementing Realizing Our Potential, Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.|
|Support: Supporting the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing in the review of the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy and in work toward our government’s goal of ending homelessness.|
|Support: Collaborating with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and others, as required, to deliver the second phase of Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. Your goal is to deliver co-ordinated, timely and quality services that support healthy, resilient and inclusive communities.|
|Continuing to work with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Minister of Children and Youth Services and others, as required, to co-ordinate services and supports for children with special needs and their families.|
|Working with the ministers of Health and Long-Term Care, of Municipal Affairs and Housing, of Education and others, as required, to develop a policy on community hubs. This policy will support using public assets efficiently — and building stronger ties among community organizations, schools and municipalities.|