January 11, 2016

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier:

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.


Helena Jazek signature

Dr. Helena Jaczek

Results achieved

Mandate Letter CommitmentProgress 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.
  • The Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) continues to advance its priorities of helping vulnerable people in Ontario through transformation agendas in social assistance and developmental services, as well as improvements to the Family Responsibility Office.
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.
  • MCSS is pursuing a multi-year, enterprise-wide strategy that will allow data and information to be high-quality, useable and linkable.
  • The strategy will provide the evidence base to support planning, forecasting and decision-making.
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.
  • MCSS has made progress to improve social assistance over the past several years with important first steps to improve incomes, promote employment and increase fairness.
  • The 2015 Budget invests about $100 million annually to again increase social assistance rates.
  • Ongoing reform will continue to be guided by the Lankin-Sheikh Commission.
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.
  • MCSS eliminated the 2014 Special Services At Home (SSAH) waitlist, provided more than 6,000 individuals and families with new Passport direct funding, provided residential supports to more than 500 additional people, and invested in 38 employment and modernization projects, 12 housing projects and a person-directed planning pilot.
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.
  • MCSS continues to engage with the federal government through the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Social Services Forum.
  • Future areas of shared opportunity can be considered as the ministry continues to move forward on the long-term transformation of social assistance.
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.
  • MCSS is actively working across the government to promote a seamless experience for people, in the areas of education, complex care, employment, housing and life transitions.
Collaborating with other ministers to align services to provide better support for youth transitions and managing complex needs.
  • MCSS is actively working across the government to promote a seamless experience for people, in the areas of education, complex care, employment, housing and life transitions.
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.
  • MCSS is supporting local creativity and innovation through 38 projects under the Developmental Services Employment and Modernization Fund, working with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to pilot targeted employment services for youth with autism, and working with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to provide a supported employment model to people with disabilities.
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.
  • The ministry is working with Developmental Services Ontario agencies to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement, as well as looking at how the application process can be streamlined.
Support: Supporting the work of the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy in implementing Realizing Our Potential, Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.
  • Maintaining the social safety net for those in need is an important part of poverty reduction.
  • MCSS’ ongoing reform of social assistance is critically linked to the government’s broader efforts to support employment and alleviate poverty.
  • The 2015 Budget invests about $100 million annually to again increase social assistance rates.
  • Ongoing reform will continue to be guided by the Lankin-Sheikh Commission.
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.
  • MCSS is participating in the engagement that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is undertaking on the Long-Term Accessible Housing Strategy update, in particular to understand the challenges and potential opportunities for those needing supportive housing, fleeing domestic violence and experiencing 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.
  • MCSS is involved in multi-ministry consultation and support related to implementing the second phase of Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which is led by the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council.
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.
  • MCSS is working with partner ministries to launch the Special Needs Strategy to support timely and effective services by identifying children earlier, co-ordinating service planning and making rehabilitation services more seamless.
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.
  • MCSS is piloting four community hubs that provide services to women who have experienced domestic and/or sexual violence, and is seeking input from the sector to facilitate the development of additional hub models.