2013 Provincial Budget Synopsis

2013 Provincial Budget Synopsis

As it relates to enhancing employment opportunities for people who have a disability

The ‘Up’ Side

First of all, it should be seen as significant that employment for people with disabilities received the attention it did in the provincial budget. The spotlight, so to speak, is encouraging in that the importance of this issue has risen to the surface with the provincial government.

The budget also announced that people who have a disability who are working or who take new jobs will be able to retain the first $200 earned before the claw back of 50 cents on each dollar earned. While not stated in the budget, Ministry of Finance confirmed that other employment-related benefits will be retained including the $100 monthly work-related benefit. This is a move in the right direction with respect to providing incentive for people to work and allowing them to keep more of what they earn. This will take effect September, 2013.

On the benefits side, ODSP Income Support will increase by 1%, effective September, 2013 as well. Ontario Works candidates will also receive the 1% increase and those without children will receive an additional top up of $14 per month. This will take effect in October 2013.

Cautiously Optimistic

The Government announced “a new Partnership Council on Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities, composed of government and corporate leaders, to champion the hiring of people with disabilities”. This appears to mirror the work of the Ontario Disability Employment Network with the development of the Champion’s League and, obviously, we believe that Champion Employers can be a great asset in moving the employment agenda forward. At this stage, our only reservations are to determine the makeup of this Council, the role that Government will play in it, and to ensure we don’t have too many vehicles of this type that are not coordinated or that seem to compete with each other. Our preference is that they should explore the option of tapping into and supporting existing structures.

Of Concern

The Finance Minister announced an investment of $295 million over 2 years to bolster an Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy. In the text they state: “Employment opportunities would be available across Ontario, with an added focus on areas with high youth unemployment, including at-risk youth (e.g. youth leaving care, youth receiving social assistance), Aboriginal youth, recent immigrants and visible minority youth, and youth in rural and northern communities.” Nowhere is there mention of youth with disabilities. In conversation with Ministry of Finance officials, this was an omission that had not been picked up on. We will need to pursue this with MTCU managers, who will be responsible for the implementation of these programs.

Service integration is still not clear. While there are lots of references to service integration, integrating employment services with Employment Ontario, it is not clear that this includes those employment services operated by ODSP.

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