Report/Study

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Metcalfe Foundation Report: The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario


Metcalfe Foundation Report: The “Welfareization” of Disability Incomes in Ontario

    Click here to access the document

    A couple of excerpts from the document:

    On page 22:

    The increase of ODSP expenditures is a complex issue. Of the many intricate factors causing the spike in ODSP, I believe the most significant one is the current labour market. It has become precarious with an increase in part-time, temporary, and contract work. Fewer people in stable salary and wage jobs means that employer-triggered disability income systems have fewer wage and salaried employees to support while they tighten eligibility requirements for their services. This is especially true for workers’ compensation.

    A significant number of individuals with disabilities are discovering that they are not eligible for employer-triggered disability income programs — private insurance, workers’ compensation, CPP-D, veterans’ disability, and EI sickness. And many who are eligible for employer-triggered disability income programs exhaust their benefits. Once their savings and assets are depleted, ODSP becomes the only possible income support program.

    On page 27:

    The perception remains that if you are active in the labour market you have systems at your disposal to support you in dealing with a disability. There is also an important message here for workers who do not have disabilities — particularly contract and part-time workers. The message is that whether or not you are an active member of the work force, if you do not have payroll deductions or pay into a private disability plan, you are not protected against the hazard of future disability and you risk looking to ODSP as the only option for an ongoing stable, but low, income.

    As noted earlier, one advantage of ODSP carrying a larger load is that social assistance permits a recipient to work and receive benefits. Unlike employer- triggered programs, there is no automatic cut-off when a recipient engages in paid employment. For this critical reason alone, there is a case to be made that other disability income systems should consider aligning themselves more closely with approaches taken by social assistance. In addition, social assistance benefits are statutory, not time limited (except once the recipient reaches age 65), and often come with good ancillary benefits such as medical transportation, disability-related supplies, and dental care. It is important to note that most other disability income programs do not provide similar benefits.

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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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Joe Dale Presents To The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development


The following was presented to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development on Thursday March 7, 2013 by the Executive Director of the Ontario Disability Employment Network, Joe Dale.

(Click here to download a PDF version)

Good morning.

First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Standing Committee today. My name is Joe Dale. I have worked in the disability field for over 35 years, spending much of that time working in, training and consulting on issues related to employment opportunities for people who have a disability. Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Ontario Disability Employment Network, a professional network of employment service agencies from across Ontario, and I am the founder of the Rotary at Work initiative in Ontario which has been a catalyst for a number of employer engagement initiatives and strategies.

I have three key issues I’d like to speak to this morning. They are: ensuring effective services and supports for people who have a disability; employer engagement and support; and, youth employment for kids with disabilities.

Providing Effective Services and Supports

People who have a disability can work and have the capacity to make a significant contribution to the workforce. This is a fundamental fact that we must understand and accept. Another fact is that we, in the non-disabled community – in both government and in the disability profession – have only just begun to scratch the surface in our understanding of how to recognize this capacity and how best to exploit it.

There is no tool or instrument, that we have today that can effectively measure or assess capacity or help us determine the ‘employability’ of people who have a disability. Whenever we set out to measure employability or capacity to work, we invariably set the bar too high and discriminate against those who we deem to be too severely disabled to work.

This was made imminently clear to me recently when I was fortunate enough to travel to Connecticut and visit a Walgreens Distribution Centre where 47% of the employees have a disability. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Walgreens story.

What was of particular interest to me was a statement made by Executive Vice President, Randy Lewis. Mr. Lewis recounted their early hires when they embarked on this journey of hiring people with disabilities. He talked about a young man with severe autism and significant behavioral problems who was to be their first hire. Mr. Lewis was asked the question: “Mr. Lewis, it seems that you deliberately started out by hiring someone with very significant challenges. Was that intentional?” Mr. Lewis responded: “Yes, we did, because we thought if we could get that first, difficult one right, the rest would be easy. What we learned though, is that we didn’t go low enough because the capacity of people was far greater than anything we had ever imagined.” A very profound statement!

Indeed, perhaps the most effective measure of employability is more properly gauged by each individual’s motivation to work.

Having said that, it is important that the services and supports each person needs is available and available in a way that makes sense.

We need to consider ease of access to employment services and supports. That it makes sense to the individual job seeker and that when they show up at the door looking for help, they can get that help as soon as possible and in a seamless way. Nothing takes the motivation out of someone faster than being bounced around from service to service, process to process, assessment to assessment and so on.

If the job seeker comes looking for help and they are sent to one door for an assessment or an eligibility determination, a different door to get an employment plan, another to get the case manager they didn’t even know they needed and so forth, not only have we lengthened the process out and made it extremely costly to deliver, but that person is at very high risk of losing their initial motivation and much less likely to follow through to the end goal of getting a job. Even those who endure it all, often end up back at the original door they first went to with the agency that offers the employment support services of job preparation and job development.

Services should be available using a wrap-around process. There is little, if any value in having silos of service with multiple agencies each providing a different part of the service. Employment agencies should be entrusted with providing as much of the supports as are needed to assist people to meet their career and job goals. If through the career exploration process, it is determined that a competency-based assessment or specialized training is required, the employment agency should broker or case manage these services on behalf of the job seeker to ensure continuity.

Job seekers with disabilities need access to the full spectrum of services and supports – pre and post-employment.

Those with limited education, training and work experience often need pre-employment supports. This includes employment-related life-skills, an understanding of workplace culture and responsibilities, resume preparation and interview skills training and so on. This should be based on time-limited, curriculum-based programs or training modules. These programs also serve to help the employment agency assess motivation; help determine the skills, abilities and aspirations of the job seeker; and, give a solid understanding of the supports needed to ensure a successful job match.

Supports don’t stop at the point of job placement. Employers also need support and it is the post-placement support that has the greatest impact on job retention and career growth. Employers need to see the employment agency as a specialist or  as a disability consultant. As one employer once told me; “I’m an expert at making coffee, not at understanding disability”. Workplaces evolve and jobs change. Often retraining and even revisiting and revising accommodations are necessary.

Preventative maintenance, in the form of customer service with the business owner or manager can often prevent terminations, nipping problems in the bud before they become too much for the business to contend with.

The Ontario Disability Employment Network recommends that the HRSDC Opportunities Fund ensures that the full range of employment supports be available to people who have a disability, including both pre and post-placement services. Secondly, we recommend that services not be carved off into silos with different services provided by different agencies, particularly case management and assessment.

Employer Engagement

Through the Rotary at Work initiative we have learned two very important lessons:

First, that we must make a solid business case for hiring people who have a disability. We can no longer soft sell on the basis that ‘It’s the right thing to do’ or by appealing to charitable and feel good notions.

And secondly, that the peer-to-peer method of delivering the message works best. People respect and listen to their peers. In the broadest sense, this is evident when we use the business-to-business approach. Business operators speaking to other business operators, in the same language and understanding each other’s motivation of profitability gets traction.

On another level, however, the peer-to-peer method can be used within employment sectors as evidenced by the Mayor’s Challenge, where we have the Mayor of Sarnia challenging his colleagues and peers in other municipalities to hire people with disabilities within the municipal workforce; or the Police Chief’s Challenge, where London’s police chief, Brad Duncan has put out the challenge to other police chiefs across the province. These challenges are followed up with in-person contact and support from the Champion.

This peer-to-peer approach is also transferable on a more micro level. Using the peer-to-peer approach, we are now working with some major Canadian Corporations to develop strategies within their own ranks. Deliberate strategies that have department managers talking to their counterparts and peers in other divisions, departments and branches not only about why they should include people who have disabilities in their divisions, but also about how to successfully on-board new hires.

There is still a lot of work to be done to engage employers in many segments of business and industry but we are now seeing the tide turning on this issue. For many businesses, the question is changing from why hire to how do I hire.

In this regard we would recommend establishing a business-driven association of experienced employers, along the lines of the UK Forum on Abilities. Such an entity could carry on the important educational work that has begun while adding to its capacity, peer support, advice and consultation services to assist those who are having difficulty with implementing pro-active recruitment strategies and on-boarding new employees from the disability sector.

Wage subsidies, as a strategy to gain employment opportunities for people with disabilities is hotly contested across the country. The Ontario Disability Employment Network, and its members, does not support wage subsidies as an employment strategy. We have seen far too many abuses, where there was no intention to retain an employee beyond the term of the subsidy. Wage subsidies also undermine the ‘value proposition’ of hiring from the disability sector and set people up to be seen and often treated differently from their co-workers.

Employers, who understand the value that people with disabilities bring to the workplace, rarely, if ever, access wage subsidies. Smart employers tell us that, when they pay wages, they are, in fact, investing in that employee and through this investment, are more vested in achieving a successful outcome. When it’s free or subsidized the relationship is not the same.

If we are doing a good job at making the business case for hiring people who have a disability, wage subsidies should not be required. We believe these precious resources could be better utilized in other areas with greater impact.

Rather than wage subsidies, consideration should be given to accommodate businesses for any ‘real’ out of pocket costs that may be incurred by hiring someone with a disability. Consider financial support for accommodations, whether they be physical accommodations, technical accommodations, personal supports and job coaches, skills training and so on.

Perhaps consideration can be given to provide a subsidy where an individual, due to their disability, may take longer to learn the job than would be expected. But, a blanket approach where employers are paid to hire people who have a disability, without any long-term commitment is bound to end up with abuses and less than desirable outcomes.

Student Employment

Much greater emphasis and resources must be invested in kids who have disabilities. Students with disabilities are also shut out of the labour market. They graduate from high school, colleges and universities without any work experience on their resume. We must get kids engaged, at 15 and 16 years of age, in summer jobs and part-time after school jobs so they can gain the experience they need to learn workplace culture and life skills, and to establish career goals and paths.

A 2012 US study found that the number one indicator of successful labour market attachment for people with severe disabilities, upon graduation from school was having had a paid job while in school.*1 Through the Rotary at Work initiative, we have experienced this first hand. In 2010 we were approached by a young man,

Adam, seeking help to find a job. Adam had been called to the Ontario Bar in 2004 but due to his disability, had never worked. Not just in his chosen profession, never worked in any job and he was willing to do anything including serving coffee if that’s what it took. We were fortunate in connecting Adam with Deloitte, where he was eventually hired to work in one of their legal departments. Adam’s manager, however, clearly stated that they went out on a limb for Adam. That he was sorely lacking in the ‘soft’ skills and had a poor understanding of workplace culture. Fortunately Adam was a quick study and has maintained his position with Deloitte.

We have seen this example over and over again – accountants, computer programmers and many other qualified professionals as well as those simply looking for entry-level positions. In the HRSDC report, Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector, there is a notation about the significant increases in the proportion of adults with disabilities that have post-secondary degrees. If we can’t do better than a 51% labour market attachment for these individuals once they graduate, we have wasted, and are continuing to waste a lot of resources and talent.

We must engage kids with disabilities in the labour market, just as we do with kids who are not disabled.

We have an excellent example of where this is being done. Community Living Sarnia Lambton has operated a summer employment program for people who have a disability for over 15 years and it has been growing exponentially in recent years. In the summer of 2011 they found paid summer jobs for 82 kids with disabilities. All types and degrees of disability, students from high school, colleges and universities, and all types of jobs – 95 jobs in total as some kids had more than one job.

There are many benefits and layers to the successes of this program. The agency accesses multiple funding opportunities through the provincial government and federal Opportunities Fund, along with corporate sponsorship and agency fund-raised dollars. In this way, public funding is leveraged to maximum benefit.

Another element is that the ‘job coaches’ are themselves University and college students, without disabilities, and hired through federal and provincial summer jobs programs. These future business leaders also learn about the benefits of including people who have a disability in the workplace.

The most telling aspect of the program, however, is the change in dynamics within the families of those with disabilities and educators. The agency notes that the greatest change is in families who suddenly gain a sense of hope and expectation as they realize their kids can work and will have a place in society. This change in expectation that work is the next logical step after school is significant. Young people with disabilities in Sarnia are now graduating from school and approaching the agency immediately for assistance to find work. No longer is social assistance the first step. For many, it has become the fallback, as it rightfully should.

At the end of the summer the students created a video to celebrate their success. It can be accessed at: http://tinyurl.com/2b56zh8

While Community Living Sarnia’s summer employment program supports people with all types of disabilities, the agency was asked by Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services to track the movement of those in the program who had an intellectual disability. Those results are in the table below:

In summary, I would like to say that we need to invest in youth with disabilities; we must engage the private sector in a different way and ensure that we can support them to be successful; and, that we need to ensure efficient and seamless access to the services and supports people who have a disability need in order to be successful contributors to the Canadian economy.

For more information, contact:

Joe Dale, Executive Director

Ontario Disability Employment Network

Jdale.odenetwork@gmail.com

905-706-4348

Sources:

*1 Carter, E.W., Austin, D. & Trainor, A. (2012). Predictors of Post school Employment Outcomes for Young Adults With Severe Disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23(1), 55-63.

 

(Click here to download the .PDF version of this document)

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Rethinking DisAbility in the Private Sector – Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada)


(From www.hrsdc.gc.ca) The Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities engaged private sector businesses, other organizations and individuals, online and in person, to identify best practices, successful approaches and barriers to employment from employer’s perspectives. For more information on the Panel, please:

Click here to access the PDF Document
Click here to access via website

 

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Submission to the Social Assistance Review Commission (Revised )


To view/download the full document in PDF format click here

Introduction

The Ontario Disability Employment Network (the Network) is a professional body of employment service providers that operate in Ontario. Our vision is that all people who have a disability in Ontario have access to the labour force and the ability to achieve meaningful employment. By ‘meaningful employment’ the Network subscribes to jobs that meet the requirements of the Employment Standards Act; are paid at commensurate wages and that add value to the economic and social well being of people who have a disability.

Member organizations represent all disability groups and types. Some are specialized (service one specific disability group) while others service a broader range of disabilities. They also represent agencies that access the full range of employment funding options – Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports (ODSP-ES), Employment Ontario (EO), Service Canada Opportunities Fund (Service Canada OF), Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC), Ministry of Community and Social Services Developmental Services Act (MCSS DSA) as well as private grants and donations. Some agencies access only one funding source, e.g. MCSS DSA funding, while others access multiple funding sources.

The Network facilitated, and participated in, group discussions with service providers, advocacy groups and service users from across the province. This is a summary of our findings.


Index

Executive Summary

Principles and Values – Employment Services 4

Principles and Values – Income Support and Benefits 8

 

Features of Effective Services and Supports

Consistent Assessment and Case Management 9

Integrated pre- and post-Employment Services and Supports 10

Access to the Same Level of Services and Supports10

Strong Connections with Employers 12

 

Discussion Questions

How Can Employment Services be Made More Effective 13

Encouraging Greater Consistency 15

Standard Assessment Tools 16

Employment-Related Participation Requirements 17

Tools to Assess Work Capacity 18

Engagement Strategies and Incentives for Employers 18

 

The Options

Improved Provincial – Municipal Relations 19

Municipalities Deliver all Employment Supports 20

Employment Ontario Delivers all Employment Services 21

 

Appropriate Benefits Structure

Adequacy and Wage Benchmarks 23

Setting Rates 24

Health Benefits for All Low Income Ontarians 24

Two Rate Approach 25

Earned Income Supplements 25

Housing Benefits and Fairness 26

 

Discussion Questions – Disability Specific

Income Supplements for low-Income People who have a Disability 26

Separate Basic Income Program for People with Severe Disabilities 27

 

Discussion Questions – Rate Structures

Rate Structures, Verification and Monitoring 27

Dietary Needs 28

 

Easier to Understand

From Surveillance to an Audit-Based System 28

Penalties 29

Risk Tolerance 29

 

Recommendations

Short-term (Immediate to 2 years) 30

Medium-term (2 years to 5 years) 31

Long-term (5 years +) 32

 

Appendices/Attachments

Appendix A – Path to Employment

Appendix B – Barriers to Employment

Appendix C – MCSS Supported Employment Code Explanation


 

Executive Summary

The Ontario Disability Employment Network would like to commend the Commission for under-taking such an in-depth and detailed review of Ontario’s Social Assistance system. There are many concepts and ideas within the second discussion paper: Approaches for Reform that the Network supports.

Everyone seems to agree that the status quo is not acceptable and a major overhaul of the system is required. As the Commission stated; “we need to transform the social assistance system; small fixes will not be enough.” The challenge is to turn what some feel is the ‘impossible’ into manageable steps and actions that will move the system forward.

In the final chapter of this report, the Network has made 37 specific recommendations. These recommendations have been divided into short- (immediate to 2 years); medium- (2 – 5 years); and, longer- (5 years +) term actions. We believe these actions will help transform the employment service delivery system to one which is stronger, more responsive and more effective without de-stabilizing the lives of people who have a disability who depend on these services or the employment service agencies that have decades of experience to contribute.

Many of these recommendations will not require financial resources. Rather, we believe they will create immediate and transformative improvements to the system. At the same time, many of these recommendations will result in significant financial savings that can be re-invested in the system. With significant improvements to the employment services system, more people will be encouraged to pursue this option. The system, in turn, must build its capacity so that it can respond accordingly.

Principles & Values – Employment Services

First and foremost it is important to recognize that ‘employment services’ is more than just the transfer payment agencies that provide direct services to people who have a disability. Government Ministries that set policies, regulations, funding mechanisms and manage both people who have a disability who want to work and relationships with transfer payment agencies must also be viewed as ‘employment services’ in this context. To state that employment services are ineffective in Ontario, in turn, means that ‘Government’ is complicit in this ineffectiveness.

Affecting positive changes that will improve employment services and lead to better employment outcomes for people who have a disability, will require a collaborative effort by Government, employment service agencies, people who have a disability and business.

People who have a disability must be viewed as a distinct target group, separate from general welfare (OW) recipients. While they may share the commonality of dependence on the state for financial assistance and benefits, services and supports for people who have a disability are very different and highly specialized. So much so, that the degree of specialization is often unique and based on the specific disability. At the same time, disability is typically ‘for life’ as opposed to short term or intermittent.

We applaud the Commission for recognizing the essential elements of effective services and supports that must be available to people who have a disability. Many people who have a disability can work and want to work, provided they have access to effective services and supports.

These services and supports must be integrated and coordinated in order to achieve better employment outcomes. It must also be recognized that not all people who have a disability will need all of these services. Nor are they necessarily linear from a delivery perspective. People who have a disability must simply be able to access the services they need, when they need them.

As a general principle, the Network believes that government, whether provincial or municipal, should not be in the business of direct service delivery. Rather, it should retain the role of ‘service manager’ and contract direct services to third party delivery agents.

Assessments must not be used to determine eligibility or to screen people out. People must not be denied access to employment services and supports based on the severity of their disability. Assessments must be individualized and flexible as a means to assist people to determine a career goal and path and to identify the supports they will need to be successful. A variety of assessment tools and formats must be available ranging from pre-employment preparation programs and time-limited work experience programs to more formal assessments.

The Network believes that both Assessment and Case Management should be managed by the primary service provider with an option to contract out or purchase formal assessments where appropriate.

Capacity assessments, on the other hand, are fraught with problems and should not be considered at this time. There are many improvements and savings to the system that can be achieved before considering this question and approach.

Employment outcomes should be broadened to include a greater range of performance measures. The Network concurs with the conclusions of ‘When the Bough Breaks’ and believes these apply equally to people who have a disability. It is to everyone’s advantage to support people for a longer period of time. Given the nature of the labour market, people will need additional supports (beyond placement) to grow their careers and further reduce or eliminate their dependency on the income support system. Employers will be more open and willing to hire people who have a disability if they are confident that support will be available to them over the long term.

Employment service providers must be compensated for providing these additional supports through a more integrated funding system.

Should ODSP continue to be a primary support for people who have a disability in the future, they must put more emphasis on helping people prepare for and find employment. Services and supports must be better integrated and available from a single employment service provider with an option to outsource specific services and targeted interventions, I.E. formal assessments, skills training, etc. People who have a disability must also have access to mainstream services and supports that are available to others with employment barriers. They must have a choice as to where and when they access these services and supports.

Early intervention is the key to helping people bypass the Income Support system. It is critical that government give serious consideration and make strategic investments in youth employment initiatives. At the same time, employment service agencies must be compensated at the same level for supporting eligible non-income support recipients.

The Network strongly supports the Commission’s goal ‘to make recommendations that will respond to the work aspirations of people with disabilities and support their participation to the maximum of their abilities.’ However, we do not believe that people who have a disability should be compelled to work through mandatory participation regulations given the number of barriers that are beyond their control.

If conditions are favourable and quality services and supports available, many more people who have a disability will chose to pursue employment.

Strong connections with employers are critical to success. Employers must be seen as a ‘customer’ and additional resources are needed to adequately and appropriately service this customer. The greatest incentives for employers are often those that alleviate their fears and reduce their perceived level of risk. This, in conjunction with the trust and knowledge that the agency’s services are of high quality and available over the long term are often enough to convince an employer to hire.

More effort is needed in the area of employer education and awareness. While there is speculation that the AODA will enhance employment opportunities, there is also speculation that it may have a short-term negative effect as employers attempt to ‘duck’ government involvement and compliance requirements. Many of today’s, business-to-business campaigns like the Network’s Champions League and Rotary at Work, attempt to show businesses the ‘carrot, rather than the stick’ when it comes to the benefits of hiring people who have a disability.

Marketing to business should not be designed and delivered by government. Business is generally shy of government initiatives. Rather, government should support marketing initiatives developed and implemented by third party providers.

Revisions and improvements to the employment services system must ensure employment service providers spend more time on service delivery and less time on administration. Managing multiple service contracts, reporting relationships, data bases and accountability processes is not efficient and takes time and resources that could be better spent on delivering services and supports. This will require a single source funding relationship. Further administrative efficiencies can be gained by moving to an audit based accountability system for those people who have a disability who work.

Supported Employment, which has some distinct service characteristics, is defined as paid employment – ‘real work for real pay’. While it was initially launched as a strategy to engage people who have an intellectual disability in employment, it has been adopted by a much broader audience as a successful service technology. The Commission should not overlook the impact of the DS Sector and DS Branch of the MCSS in its review of employment services in Ontario.

The Network agrees that Government must make a greater investment in employment services for people who have a disability. Much of this investment can be found in the administrative efficiencies identified in this report. Investment is needed to increase the capacity of service providers as well as in professional development and innovation. Funding for employment service agencies need to balance core operating costs with performance-based incentives.

Once an effective operating environment is achieved, employment service providers that consistently under-perform should be phased out.

People in receipt of ODSP need greater incentives to work and the security that they will not be financially worse off by working or penalized if they fail in the workforce.

The Network strongly supports the Drummond concept that government must invest more money in people that need more support. At the same time, if Government wants to see more people get jobs, they must build the capacity of the employment service sector to respond. There is no value in assessing people as to their needs, if appropriate services and supports are not available.

The Network does not believe that employment services should be consolidated under EO. Fundamentally, we believe the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities does not have a good understanding of the unique needs of people who have a disability when it comes to employment services and supports. Furthermore, the types and amounts of services and supports people who have a disability need does not fit the One-Stop model that MTCU is mandated to provide. We strongly believe that under this model, people who have more significant disabilities will fall even further behind.

Irrespective of which delivery option is chosen, inter-ministerial collaboration is a fundamental requirement. All government ministries and departments that touch on any aspect of disability is in a position to positively or negatively impact employment outcomes for people who have a disability. One ministry or department should not be initiating programs or services that compete with or undermine employment options and opportunities.

Service participants and employment service providers must have significant input into what the new system should look like.

Principles & Values – Benefits

Adequacy levels are an overriding and dominating issue that needs to be addressed. As the Commission has pointed out, this exercise must unfold through a poverty-reduction lens. For people to consider pursuing employment there must be a sense of financial stability and security. In addition, consequences for failure in the workforce must be minimized or eliminated.

The Commission must look at the combination of income support and wages with improved incentives that encourage people to try working. Adequacy and financial stability/security must also consider; medical benefits, specific disability-related supports (E.g. special diet allowance), child care and housing. People with disabilities need the security of knowing that health benefits will be stable, irrespective of their status in employment or social assistance. In some cases the disability itself will result in a higher dependency on medical benefits.

The Network believes, in principle, that health benefits should be available to all low-income Ontarians. There is a cost of providing health benefits, but there is also a cost of not providing health benefits.

The Network does not support a two-rate approach. Instead, we support a system that ‘increases asset limits for an initial period of time when an individual first enters the program’.

There should not be a separate, basic income program for people with severe disabilities. Supplements, due to additional costs associated with the disability may be considered as should different services and supports. However, the Network and its members believe the notion of dividing disability into two groups based on employability has some severe consequences. The proposed concept will entrap people in the social assistance system for life.

While there is some concern that record keeping may be a bigger problem for people who have a disability, most people seem to be satisfied that, with proper support, people who have a disability should be held to the same standard as other citizens.

It is imperative that people understand the rules that govern the income support system. This includes those who manage the system, service recipients and the support organizations and advocacy groups that act on behalf of people who have a disability. Materials and documents related to the income support system must be available in plain language and in alternate formats.

Chapter 1: Reasonable Expectations and Necessary Supports to Employment

Features of Effective Services and Supports

We applaud the Commission for recognizing the essential elements that create effective services and supports. The overview of these services and supports is very much in keeping with those identified by the Network (see Appendix A – Path to Employment). The following reflects some of the comments/clarifications and recommendations from our constituents:

Consistent assessment and case management:

Assessments must be individualized and flexible. The type and intensity of assessment must respond to a variety of situations – the type and/or level of disability; career goals; degree to which the individual is self-directed; etc. Often, for people who have a disability, the most critical assessment is the determination of individual motivation, reliability and dependability (MRD). This is often determined through participation in pre-employment preparation programs. Pre-employment preparation programs are also valuable in assisting the service provider to get to know the candidate. This greatly assists in ensuring a good job ‘match’.

Work experience should also be considered a form of assessment and is often built into pre-employment preparation programs. Guidelines are needed to ensure work experience placements are time-limited and curriculum-based and not simply ‘free labour’ or never-ending.

Formal assessments are more common where the individual wishes to pursue a particular career goal, skilled trade or profession; or, where there is question about the stability of someone who has a mental health or medical disability.

Assessments must not be used to determine eligibility or to screen people out. Everyone who is motivated to work must have access to the employment delivery system. It is not uncommon to find employment for a highly motivated individual with an accommodating employer even though the severity of their disability may seem impractical or insurmountable on first encounter. In a 2003 study of over 2,500 people who had a disability and who engaged service agencies for assistance to find paid employment, the most successful disability group was people who have an intellectual disability. On a per capita basis, this group was the most successful at both getting jobs and in their job retention. (See http://www.odenetwork.com/library/employment-outcomes-project-report-sept-2003/ for details.)

Case management must be provided by the primary service provider. Again, this is an individualized and flexible service that is very dependant on the individual’s needs and ability to self-manage their services and supports. Case management is more successful when provided by the primary service provider as the service provider is a ‘constant’ in the employment delivery process and most often is the one that is setting up appointments and interviews and assisting the candidate to achieve their goals. Often third party case management is not readily available and typically is not responsive to the needs of the individual in a timely way. This service is best provided by those who work with the individual on a day-to-day basis.

In the early launch of ODSP ES, Assessments were routinely performed as a separate, stand alone service and often by third party assessors. Experience has shown that these assessments tended to be ‘formula-driven’, were often unhelpful to the employment process, irrelevant and rarely addressed the match between a motivated candidate and an available opportunity. Valuable resources were wasted when each individual was required to undergo a mandatory assessment by these third-party assessors. Third party assessments should be available by exception rather than the rule.

The Network believes that both Assessment and Case Management should be managed by the primary service provider with an option to contract out or purchase formal assessments where appropriate.

Integrated pre- and post-employment services and supports:

The Network agrees that outcomes ‘should be broadened to include performance measures related to pre-employment activities and addressing barriers to employment’ for people who have a disability. In general, it would be advantageous to support people for the long run and in a more holistic way. In this respect the conclusions of ‘When the Bough Breaks’ apply equally to people who have a disability.

Despite the funding limitations of ODSP-ES and EO, some service providers offer on-going support to people who have a disability and to employers through pre-employment preparation programs, job coaching and trouble-shooting. These service providers often have access to other resources and/or supports, financed by Service Canada, DSA or MOH funding. In addition they frequently address ‘off the job’ issues like housing, transportation, budgeting, financial reporting, etc. These service providers tend to have better employment outcomes than those who operate with only one funding source. (See http://www.odenetwork.com/library/employment-outcomes-project-report-sept-2003/ for details.)

Given the changing labour market, people who have a disability often enter the workforce in low, entry-level positions, often working part-time without benefits. While this is a good first step, in order to reduce and eventually eliminate people’s dependency on ODSP-IS, additional supports may be needed. This will help people grow in their career and/or assist them to get new or second part-time jobs. This is particularly important in the current labour market.

Access to the same level of services for people who have a disability:

ODSP must put more emphasis on helping people who have a disability prepare for and find employment. People who have a disability can work and want to work. They must have access to the same range of services, including skills upgrading and training as other groups, in addition to disability-specific services and supports.

People who have a disability need access to the full range of services and supports, from pre-employment preparation & training to job placement and post-employment supports. These services and supports must be better integrated and, in general, available from single source service providers. Employment service providers may need to outsource specific services for targeted interventions as needed; E.g. skill specific training.

We support the Commission’s conclusion that early intervention is important for people with mental illness. In fact, we believe early intervention should be seen as a critical investment for all people who have a disability. Early intervention is key to helping people bypass the Income Support system. People who have a disability often graduate from high school, college or university with little or no work experience, no practical experience for their resume or understanding of realistic career goals. The need for financial security while the individual is struggling to gain employment typically ‘drives’ them to the Income Support system and the longer a person is receiving ODSP-IS, the more difficult it is to help them leave that system.

Graduating from school with practical work experience raises the expectation that work is the next logical step for people who have a disability. Service providers are seeing more people who have a disability who are not in receipt of Income Support in cases where those individuals have had access to co-op placements, summer employment and after school jobs.

We appreciate the Commission’s goal ‘to make recommendations that will respond to the work aspirations of people with disabilities and support their participation to the maximum of their abilities.’ This aligns with the Network’s position that people who are motivated should have access to the labour market and the services and supports that will help them achieve this goal. However, we do not believe that people who have a disability should be compelled to work through mandatory participation regulations.

There still remain too many barriers, many of which are beyond the control of people who have a disability, to mandate participation. (See Appendix B – Barriers to Employment) Business and the labour market are not yet ready to support full participation and the service system does not have the capacity to support full participation. Current, government policy frameworks and funding do not support full participation and many families and individuals with disabilities are very risk adverse with respect to the loss of income support and benefits. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult and costly to force ‘motivation’ with people who have no desire to work. Who would be held responsible for a lack of success due to lack of motivation, and who would be covering the cost of providing these services?

At this time, active engagement in the labour market should be limited to and focused on youth through further development of youth employment programs and mandated work co-op placements while in school.

The Network would like to caution the Commission with respect to capacity assessments. This could have a number of negative impacts on the system. Assessment tools tend to be unreliable when it comes to determining employability and can create a dependency for life for many people who might otherwise work. Often the impact of disability changes, technology advances and new and creative ways to construct employment emerge. Additionally, opportunity often emerges when least expected. These opportunities should not be overlooked.

Finally, it is our experience that capacity assessments are often used to screen people out or to determine that people are too costly to serve. Assessors, particularly government case workers, are often out of touch with the business environment and the opportunities that may be available.

Strong Connections with Employers

The Network and its members strongly support the direction of the Commission with respect to employer engagement. Current funding models do not provide sufficient resources for effective marketing campaigns and often limit longer term coaching, trouble shooting and other interventions, customer service and quality assurance. The relationship with employers and the business community is critical in terms of creating employment opportunities, repeat business, and ensuring job retention, including career advancement and growth.

The connection with employers needs to be done at the local level. While there is a need for ‘big picture’ marketing and education campaigns, it is the relationship at the local level that ensures a strong relationship and that businesses trust the service agency and have access to the on-the-ground services and supports that both employees with disabilities and businesses need.

Business-to-business educational programs have proven to be successful and government should support these types of initiatives. Unfortunately, government-led initiatives like ‘Don’t Waste Talent’ have been less successful. Business operators tell us the message just doesn’t resonate with them.

There are mixed reactions to programs that provide incentives like tax breaks and wage subsidies to employers. Many of the Network’s members find that wage subsidy programs help create opportunities for people who have a disability but that these opportunities too frequently end when the subsidy runs out. As a result many don’t utilize wage subsidy programs or use them only as a measure of last resort. The principle is that when an employer pays the individual, they are, in essence, investing in that person and therefore more committed to a successful outcome. Wage subsidies may be considered legitimate where there is a real cost to the employer that is directly related to the disability.

The incentive for many employers is the trust that the agency’s services and supports will be available over the long term. The security of knowing that support is just a phone call away, is often all the reassurance the employer needs.

The Network recommends that an independent review of wage subsidy initiatives be undertaken. Such a study could examine which employers use wage subsidies and why, how many jobs were created as a direct result of wage subsidies and, what the job retention rate was after the subsidies ran out. With resources so scarce, we need to justify where they are spent and ensure they are being put to good use.

 

Discussion Questions

How can employment services be made more effective?

First and foremost it is important to recognize that ‘employment services’ is more than just the transfer payment agencies that provide direct services to people who have a disability. Government Ministries that set policies, regulations, funding mechanisms and manage both people who have a disability who want to work and relationships with transfer payment agencies must also be viewed as ‘employment services’ in this context. To state that employment services are ineffective in Ontario, in turn, means that ‘Government’ is complicit in this ineffectiveness.

Employment services must be coordinated and integrated at the government level as well. The Ontario Disability Employment Network strongly recommends that government create a policy framework related to employment for people who have a disability. Such a framework must set the parameters that all Ministries and departments that fund services for people who have a disability (not just employment services) must adhere to.

Recognizing that the implementation of a policy framework will be a longer term proposition, the Network recommends the Commission set out short-, medium-, and long-term goals. These might include:

  • Creating an inter-ministerial committee with a mandate to look at employment issues, policy and funding as well as the relationship to other non-employment services for this target group (including Ministries of; Education, Training Colleges & Universities, Community and Social Services, Health and Labour)
  • Enhance the provincial Accessibility Advisory Committee guidelines to include accessible employment (currently, accessible employment is not included in the provincial mandate for Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees)
  • Including summer and after school employment for students in the new employment delivery system
  • Create policies that any ‘new’ money allocated for daytime activity programs is to be directed toward employment programs
  • Develop a transition strategy for existing sheltered workshops and day programs that want to convert to employment programs
  • Ensure other funding programs for people who have a disability do not conflict with, undermine or otherwise compete with employment programs (Currently individualized funding models for people who have an intellectual disability are largely unregulated and often used to establish unpaid work in the private sector. As recently as February 2012 the DS Branch of MCSS set out service code guidelines for its transfer payment agencies that not only condone, but promote, unpaid work in the private sector. Given the recent Human Rights case http://canlii.ca/en/on/onhrt/doc/2012/2012hrto68/2012hrto68.html where a private business owner was found to be in contravention of Ontario labour law for such practices, it is difficult to understand why one branch of government would promote activities to its Transfer Payment Agencies that clearly contravene the law. (See Appendix C – MCSS Supported Employment Code Explanation)
  • A mandate to provide co-op work experiences to all students who have a disability
  • Review funding of day programs under the DS Branch and Ministry of Health to determine the extent to which these Ministries are supporting employment programs* The Commission should not overlook the degree and potential impact of these two funding streams if we are to achieve a single funding stream for employment services.

Along with this policy framework, the Network also recommends moving to a single source funding stream for employment services for people who have a disability. A move to single source funding will achieve efficiencies both at the service level and financially for both the Government and transfer payment agencies. The savings and efficiencies must then be reinvested in the service delivery system.

We must find ways to ensure employment service providers spend more time on service delivery and less time on administration. Service agencies that currently spend countless hours managing multiple funding contracts; administering several different databases; managing different reporting and accountability measures; and, managing relationships with various Ministry program officers, could redirect those resources into providing more services and/or creating effective marketing initiatives, training staff and managing quality assurance programs. Entire departments within Government Ministries that manage service contracts and client case workers could be reduced or eliminated, again, saving precious resources that could be re-invested into increasing and improving employment services.

There needs to be standards of practice for employment service agencies. Such standards go beyond current Ministry requirements and should include business practices such as: ensuring operators have annual work plans; marketing initiatives are in place; training and professional development for staff; quality assurance programs; client satisfaction programs; customer service standards; and, etc.

Recognizing there will always be resistance to standards, this will be minimized if they are developed by the sector in consultation with service participants, employers and government rather than being developed by government alone.

Government must make a greater investment in employment supports for people who have a disability. As noted in the Commission’s report, ‘there is little focus on helping people receiving ODSP prepare for, and find employment. Investments must be made in professional development and innovation. Since the advent of ODSP’s outcome based funding model, professional development has all but been eliminated. We are now seeing the consequences of this as staff skill levels are not maintained and turnover has meant many more people are working in the sector without the pre-requisite skills. At the same time, without innovation, and resources to encourage and support innovation, service models stagnate and new service technologies fail to emerge as people retrench around old ways of doing business. Since the advent of ODSP-ES, this has become the current state of the industry.

People in receipt of ODSP need greater incentives to work (see chapter 2) and security that, if work fails, they will not be destitute. Employment service providers also need incentives and an understanding that excellence in performance will be rewarded. This comes with the caveat that a 13 week job is not the only performance indicator.

Once improved policy structures and funding frameworks are put in place, service providers that consistently underperform should be phased out.

While the Commission’s report takes an in-depth look at Income Support, including incentives to work, there needs to be a more detailed and comprehensive study of best practices in employment services to identify the key factors that contribute to superior performance.

 

What should the Commission recommend to encourage greater consistency in effective employment services and supports for social assistance recipients, while still allowing for local flexibility and innovation?

Some suggestions that have already been made will encourage greater consistency while allowing for local flexibility and innovation.

  • Enhance the mandate of Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees
  • Engage the employment service sector in the design and development of standards of practice
  • Create a provincial resource that is designed to support innovation
  • Better coordination between various departments of government by establishing an inter-ministerial committee on employment for people who have a disability

Additional strategies might include creating a Provincial advisory/oversight body. This could be similar to an ‘Ontario College of Employment Services’ with input from service participants, advocacy organizations, employers, service providers or their networks and Government. This body could be responsible for creating and monitoring service standards, addressing issues related to training and professional development, complaints and appeals, etc.

Alternately or perhaps, in addition, an advisory body of self advocates would be very helpful.

Further comment on consistency, local flexibility and innovation will follow in discussing the preferred delivery options.

Should standard assessment tools be used to identify people’s needs and match them to appropriate services and supports?

Every individual is unique, as are the circumstances that surround them – the nature of their disability, their life circumstances, personality traits, family environment, external environment and the opportunities before them. It is not realistic to expect a single, standard assessment tool that can assess the needs of all people and match them to the services and supports they need.

There are some basic principles that the Network subscribes to, with respect to Assessments. They are:

  • Focus on ability, what the person has to offer rather than their limitations
  • Assessment tools should not be used to screen people out
  • Pre-employment programs are vital and, in most cases, provide important assessment information
  • There must be flexibility and a variety of assessment tools available
  • People should be able to request a re-assessment at any time

In general, there are two levels of assessments – one which assesses basic employability based on MRD (motivation, reliability and dependability) and a second that is more formal to assess skills and aptitudes for skilled jobs, trades and/or professional careers.

One of the critical factors related to assessments is that once an individual has been assessed as to their needs, they must then have access to the services and supports needed to be successful. Too often people are over assessed only to determine the appropriate services and supports are not available.

The Network strongly supports the Drummond concept that government must invest more money in people that need more support.

What should be considered appropriate employment-related activity participation requirements for people with disabilities? Should participation requirements for people with disabilities be different from those for other people receiving social assistance?

As previously noted, we do not believe people who have a disability should be forced to participate in employment. Many of the barriers faced by people who have a disability are out of their control. There are still many businesses that do not welcome people who have a disability as well as challenges in accessing the labour market. There are physical accessibility issues, transportation, personal support needs, etc that create barriers. In addition, it will take time to improve the employment delivery and income support systems in order to assure people who have a disability that the risk-reward scenario is in their favour.

Forcing people who are not motivated to work or insecure with other aspects of their lives, will drive up costs due to increased efforts by service providers, higher failure rates and poor job retention.

As previously noted, active engagement in the labour market should begin earlier while people who have a disability are still in school

If conditions are favourable and quality services and supports available, many more people who have a disability will pursue employment. Having said that, it is imperative that more emphasis is placed on demonstrating that employment is a viable outcome for people who have a disability.

One of the simplest things that could be done to increase efficiency is to grant eligibility for employment at the same time that eligibility for income support is determined. Time and time again, we hear about lost opportunities. Employment service providers have employers willing to hire and candidates available to fill those positions, but by the time the ODSP Case Worker determines eligibility for the participant the job is lost. This can take as long as six weeks and employers just won’t wait. This is a needless step. Given, under the current ODSP outcomes-based funding model, the risk is on the service provider (as to whether or not they receive funding), we are unable to ascertain why this step is necessary. It is time consuming, an administrative burden and causes a loss of many employment opportunities.

It should be noted that once we increase the demand for employment outcomes, we must be able to respond with appropriate services and supports. The service delivery system will need to build its capacity to respond to that increased demand. Mandatory participation would add significantly to that capacity requirement.

Our recommendation is that the Commission focuses on other barriers within the system e.g. improving the delivery system, increasing employer engagement and acceptance, income security, housing etc. With such improvements in place, this may be a reasonable question for the future.

Should a tool be developed to assess the work capacity of people with disabilities? If so, how should the tool be developed and how should it be used?

The Network believes that capacity assessments are fraught with problems and should not be considered at this time. There are many improvements and savings to the system that must be achieved before considering this approach.

What kinds of engagement strategies and incentives would be most effective in encouraging and supporting employers to hire more social assistance recipients?

As previously noted, the Network believes that an independent study on wage subsidies should be conducted. It is important to understand the level to which employers are also, if at all, investing in these employees and, therefore, vested in a successful outcome.

Alleviating employer fears with low risk options has had much success.

Some employment service providers have found that setting up time-limited work experiences has led to successful job offers. Often, at the end of the work experience, the employer is convinced that the individual can contribute to the workplace and commits to an on-going hire.

Some service providers offer options where they become the ‘employer of record’ for a short period. In these cases the service provider contracts with the employer and uses the contracted revenues to pay the individual. After a pre-agreed to time frame (4 to 6 weeks), the employer then decides as to an on-going hire.

Summer and after school employment has a double benefit. It is generally viewed by the business as a risk-free way to try a candidate who has a disability as there is an ‘end in sight’. At the same time, this offers valuable experience to a young person who needs to build their experience, capacity and expectations with respect to work.

Some agencies offer on-going support for as long as the candidate is employed including ‘out-placement’ assistance if the hire doesn’t work out. Many employers have told us that the greatest fear in hiring is the fear of firing. Alleviating this fear is a great relief to many employers.

In general, more work needs to be done to ensure and support employment service providers to view the employer as a ‘customer’. Work places and jobs evolve over time and employers look to the ‘disability experts’ for on-going support. On-going customer service, including job coaching, trouble shooting and longer-term support such as re-training must be available. Local service providers must have the capacity and resources to build strong relationships with employers.

Much more effort and work needs to be done on employer education and marketing initiatives. Routinely we hear about labour shortages and the need to boost immigration as a primary solution to these shortages. We need to replace this mantra with one that suggests ‘a ready and willing labour source already exists, here in your own backyard’.

Business to business models of educating and marketing work very well as evidenced by groups like Rotary at Work, the Network’s Champion’s League, JOIN’s Business Leadership Network and others. These initiatives should be supported and developed further. There is a role for service providers to coordinate and support these efforts. However, if government assistance is provided, they must be held accountable through measures that assess their effectiveness, such as the number of businesses that have hired and the number of people employed as a direct result.

In general, marketing to employers should not be designed and delivered directly by government. The business mindset is that they want government ‘out of their face’ and attempts by government to gain business’s favour are typically rejected.

 

 

The Options

Improved Provincial-Municipal/First Nations Collaboration

While there is always room for, and a need, to improve Provincial-Municipal/First Nations collaboration, the Network does not believe this will result in the desired outcomes necessary to make significant improvement in the delivery of social assistance and employment services.

It is clear that no one is happy with the status quo and that major improvements are required. As the Commission has stated; we need to transform the social assistance system; small fixes will not be enough.” It is difficult to mandate and regulate collaboration and, based on past history, the Network’s members are not convinced this will achieve the wholesale changes we need to make to the system.

Still, inter-ministerial collaboration is a must. There are many Provincial Ministries that have a steak in employment and disability – Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and others. There must be an over-riding employment policy framework that each of these Ministries will operate within, regardless of which Ministry has the lead responsibility for employment services.

Service participants and employment service providers must have significant input as to what this system should look like.

Municipalities Deliver all Employment Supports

While Municipalities tend to be more in touch with local issues and can be more flexible and supportive of the people who live in their communities the Network has a number of concerns and reservations about this option.

The Network fundamentally believes that government, whether provincial or municipal, should not be in the business of direct service delivery. Rather, it should retain the role of ‘service delivery manager’ and contract direct services to third party delivery agents. Municipalities do both. In some cases they directly deliver services e.g. OW employment services and in other cases they contract with third party service agencies. We believe this creates a conflict while keeping government in the business of service delivery.

Secondly, there is a concern that if services are moved to Municipalities, there will not be a separation of income supports from employment supports. The Network believes these two programs – income and employment – should be managed separately and to maintain both programs within one management stream would result in the continuation of the current challenges and conflicting priorities of policy, funding and client service management.

People who have a disability need access to the full range of employment services, including training. If employment services are managed by Municipalities while training is managed by Employment Ontario, there would be barriers, time delays and inefficiencies of additional referral processes that individuals would have to contend with. It would make more sense for all related employment and training services to be managed by one government department and/or Ministry.

This will require all monies earmarked for disability and employment, regardless of source, be funnelled through the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. This should include the Service Canada Opportunities Fund. Service Canada could determine where the resources are to be directed, but day-to-day management of these funds should be by MTCU.

For service operators and government, it would be much more efficient and cost effective to have all employment and training services within a single Ministry. We need to ensure that agencies don’t need multiple funding contracts, multiple program officers, multiple data bases and accountability processes in order to provide the full basket of services people who have a disability need. This would be much more efficient within one Ministry department.

Finally, there is concern that the Ontario Municipalities Act gives Municipalities full authority and autonomy to manage programs in the manner they see fit. This creates concern that services and service delivery may lack consistency from community to community across the province. There must be standards of practice and approach that an individual can depend on, regardless of the community in which they reside.

There is an important role for Municipalities to play when it comes to local planning, service coordination and community collaboration.

At the same time, people who have a disability must have access to mainstream employment supports provided by EO or other employment services. This will be particularly important to individuals who are self-directed or who want to pursue professional designations and/or certifications.

The key is to have a choice of service delivery agents and methodologies to ensure people who have more significant disabilities – people needing more intensive employment supports, those who need pre-employment preparation supports and those who are not self directed – have access to the labour market and are not screened out based on the severity of their disability.

The Municipality could be the primary point of access for people who have a disability. In this way, the Municipality will be the first point of reference for information about employment services and will provide referrals to the employment service providers.

We caution, however, that the concept of ‘job ready’ is highly subjective and can create its own barriers. Job Ready is often used as the rationale to screen people out and the concept overlooks ‘opportunity’ (the right place at the right time and/or the right ‘match’).

It also tends to lead to service options where people must be deemed ‘job ready’ before being referred into the employment stream and many valuable resources are spent on ‘getting people ready’. Experience has shown that many people are successful learning on the job when this is combined with time limited pre-employment preparation programs that work toward finding the right ‘match’ and effective job coaching supports.

We recommend, rather, that people are given ‘choice’ as to service providers/streams and that employment service providers are best suited to assess and determine ‘job ready’. As noted, this is often a case of matching the candidate to an opportunity available in conjunction with the service provider’s capacity to provide the necessary services and supports.

Employment Ontario Delivers all Employment Services

The move of ODSP Employment Supports and other funded Disability employment supports to Employment Ontario may, indeed, be the most cost effective and efficient way to manage employment services. This may not, however, be the most effective way to deliver employment supports and services to this particular target group.

People who have a disability require great flexibility in the types and amounts of services and supports they need to be successful. This does not fit the current One-Stop model that MTCU is mandated to provide. The EO model and resource base, as calculated on per unit costs of specified interventions, is not flexible enough, nor does it provide sufficient resources to support people who have a disability. As noted in the Drummond report, Government must invest more money in people that need more support. This concept is at odds with the EO method of operating where unit costs are based on interventions rather than on people.

One-Stop service models existed in the 70’s and early 80’s, known then as Canada Manpower Centres. Similarly, these Centres were not able to service people who had a disability. The vast majority of people who had a disability that went to Canada Manpower Centres looking for assistance were referred to sheltered workshops or specialized disability agencies. Their capacity to service this group, both in terms of available resources and expertise, was insufficient.

The Network has serious concerns that people with more severe disabilities will fall even further behind in this service model.

For the past two decades, the disability service sector has been phasing out sheltered workshops in favour of community-based employment and other community options. Sheltered workshops contribute to lifelong dependency on Social Assistance and generally provide menial and repetitive tasks with little benefit for participants. Government should continue to support efforts to phase these programs out, in favour of competitive employment. Transition supports may be needed to do so.

To ensure people who have a disability will be well served within the Employment Ontario umbrella and that more people who have a disability will gain competitive employment, certain conditions and compromises will be required:

  1. EO must to maintain specialized services for people who have a disability.
  2. EO must retain a separate service delivery stream for people who have a disability. This will be within the context of a ‘no wrong door’ approach, giving people who have a disability ultimate choice of service delivery agent.
  3. The disability stream must capture all eligibility status, e.g. EI, ODSP, CPPD, etc.
  4. Government should not directly deliver services and supports. Rather, its role should be to fund and manage systems through transfer payment agencies and to ensure accountability.
  5. The Network rejects any notion of ‘Capacity Assessments’ that may be used to determine employability. All persons who are motivated to work must have access to the services and supports they need in order to be successful.
  6. Benefit entitlement (income support) should be separate from employment supports.
  7. Ontario needs a clear Employment First Policy Framework for people who have a disability that identifies that all new program investments will be directed at employment service models and initiatives.
  8. There must be a clear and transparent selection process for Transfer Payment Agencies that takes into account their area of specialty and track record of successful service delivery, not just their administrative capacity.
  9. EO must ensure there is capacity for innovation, creativity and flexibility in the new system.

At the same time, the Network believes that an employment system managed by Employment Ontario will lead to a more efficient single funding stream for all employment services, give greater consistency to the way services are applied across the province, and give people who have a disability access to the same range of services and supports that other job seekers have.

Regardless of options, there must be sufficient resources to provide the full range of services and supports for people who have a disability, as the Commission has so clearly identified.

 

 

Chapters 2 & 3

The Network focussed its discussions related to ‘benefits’ primarily on those issues that will reduce the barriers to employment. While many of the following questions are focussed on all income support recipients, the Ontario Disability Employment Network has responded specifically from a disability perspective.

Chapter 2

Appropriate Benefits Structure

Discussion Questions – General

Which adequacy & wage benchmarks should be used to set rates? Are there other measures that should be considered?

Adequacy levels are overriding and dominating issues that need to be addressed. As the Commission has pointed out, this exercise must unfold through a poverty-reduction lens. For people to consider pursuing employment there must be a sense of financial stability and security. In addition, consequences for failure in the workforce must be minimized or eliminated.

In a methodology for setting rates, what proportions would balance adequacy, fairness & incentives?

In looking at rates, the Commission must look at the combination of income support and wages with improved incentives that encourage people to try working. Adequacy and financial stability/security must also consider the total package including; income support, wages, medical benefits, specific disability-related supports (E.g. special diet allowance), child care and housing.

Even though the current system provides some level of financial incentives, the negative impact on subsidized housing often removes this incentive and can place the individual in a negative financial position.

If responsibility for the employment service delivery system were to move to the Municipality, it would be easier to manage an adjusted benefit structure that recognizes all financial elements of people who are in receipt of income support.

Once adequacy and the total financial package issues are addressed, the Commission should build in additional incentives such as an adjustment to the claw back formula or an earned income supplement.

Some incentives would be non-monetary. That is, if the system were easier to manage and understand and was more fluid, people would be more likely to pursue employment. (See discussion re: rate structures)

 

Should health benefits be provided to all eligible low-income Ontarians? If so, how should the cost be covered?

The Network believes, in principle, that health benefits should be available to all low-income Ontarians. There is a cost of providing health benefits, but there is also a cost of not providing health benefits.

People with disabilities need the security of knowing that health benefits will be stable, irrespective of their status in employment or social assistance. In some cases the disability itself will result in a higher dependency on medical benefits. In an employment setting, this may result in higher costs to the employer and such costs should be off-set in order that a person who has a disability is not seen as a greater financial burden than other employees.

Additionally, ODSP should review eligible prescriptions, relative to the disability-related needs of people who have a disability.

Government needs to look at revenue streams as a part of the resolution to this issue. It is unfair that each time government faces a revenue shortage that it is people who are most vulnerable who pay the price through cost cutting and cost containment measures rather than looking for new revenue sources.

Consideration should be given to folding the cost of medical benefits into the Ontario Health Tax base so that there is only one program of this type for employers to be concerned about.

 

Should Ontario use a two-rate approach, based on how long someone requires social assistance? If so, should there be exemptions from starting at the lower short-term rate?

The Network does not support a two-rate approach. Instead, the Network supports a system that ‘increases asset limits for an initial period of time when an individual first enters the program.’ Consideration should be given for people, disabled or otherwise, who run into emergency or dire, short-term difficulty. This will mean setting a maximum time limit on receiving financial assistance, e.g. 3 months, without having to reduce assets beyond a reasonable level. This might include maintaining a primary residence & vehicle (to a certain value), pension plan, registered education savings plans, etc. At the end of the time frame, the traditional asset rules would apply.

The concept of this approach is to assist people from falling into long-term dependency by not forcing them to liquidate, within reason, those assets that can help maintain their longer-term financial stability and independence.

This approach will require further study and consideration, in terms of establishing the right amount of support (insufficient support may not help people get out of their circumstances); how the length of time is determined; and, what assets are allowable and the appropriate limits of such assets.

 

Would an earned income supplement be a good mechanism to increase the incentive to work? If so, how should it be designed?

We have had a mixed response to this question from the Network’s members. Some think that while a tax-based program would be more universal and easier to manage, others believe the relief needs to be more immediate for people who live in poverty. People who live ‘hand to mouth’ need those incentives to be more immediate and responsive.

Other members feel that ‘a better-designed earned income supplement, with a higher actual value and later withdrawal as income rises beyond a reference wage’ would be effective, although the proof lies in the detail and the Network would like to see some proposals with realistic figures in order to fully evaluate the merits of this approach.

Still others believe that the Government should reduce the ODSP claw back amounts or provide greater cash bonuses to people who work. Members generally concur that tax based programs are not as much of an incentive as changing the claw back formula.

Other recommendations include improvements to educate service participants about the benefit system, simplifying the language and moving away from the intrusive and punitive surveillance system that currently exists.

Amortizing income and reducing administration in chasing down paper work would add great efficiencies to the system while making it easier on service recipients to manage their budgets. (See How should the current rate structure be changed… Pg 26)

 

Would a housing benefit improve fairness and the incentive to work? If so, how should it be designed?

When considering personal and emotional priorities, a safe and secure place to live, personal health and food are paramount. People who do not have these three basic necessities are not generally well positioned to successfully pursue employment. The shortage of subsidized housing and loss of housing subsidies due to earned income is a deterrent to working. The Commission should address housing issues if it wants to see more people who have a disability pursue employment.

Housing subsidies should be managed as part of the total income security package. Reductions of housing subsidies should be on a sliding scale, initiated at a much higher level, where the combined family income of wages and income support is much closer to the reference wage or other poverty-level indicators. In this way, the housing subsidy would be reduced as the person or family makes there way beyond the reference wage or poverty level that is established.

 

Discussion Questions – Disability Specific

How should income supplements for low-income people who have a disability be designed and delivered? Should such supplements be provided outside the social assistance system?

Disability income supports need to be maintain as a distinct and separate system from other social assistance recipients. Income support for people who have a disability is not a short-term requirement – generally, disabilities are for life. People who have a disability should be seen as different from other social assistance recipients and resources should be directed at responding to the support needs of the individual due to their disability and the barriers that society has created for them, including the barriers to earn a reasonable income.

Should there be a separate basic income program for people with severe disabilities who are unlikely to generate significant earnings?

No. The notion of dividing disability into two groups based on employability has some severe consequences. As previously noted, emerging technologies, changing labour markets, improved service delivery technologies and greater employer acceptance will impact future job opportunities for people who have a disability. The proposed concept will entrap people in the social assistance system for life.

 

Discussion Questions – Rate Structures

The Network will answer the questions about changing the rate structure and moving from a surveillance system together as we believe the solution is inter-related.

How should the current rate structure be changed to reduce complexity?

Should the social assistance system move from a surveillance approach toward an audit-based system of verification and monitoring?

The Network envisions a reporting and rate structure that is like an equal billing process, similar to one used by Ontario Hydro or Enbridge Gas Company. That is: a system where people report their income monthly and their ODSP Income Support payments are calculated and adjusted annually. This should incorporate the following features:

  • The individual will report any major income adjustments adjustments (up or down) or other change in life circumstances that would ‘trigger’ an equal billing re-calculation.
  • A deviation factor/range can be pre-set. In the event that a monthly report exceeds this range an equal billing re-calculation is triggered.
  • In the event that an individual misses a monthly report, an average is calculated based on the previous 3 months to determine if any adjustments are required.
  • Income reporting & social assistance payments will be reconciled annually (validated by a copy of the individual’s annual T4 slip) This means service agencies will no longer be required to chase down paperwork for every candidate on every pay period, which is the current practice
  • Overpayments and required reimbursements will be calculated and paid back on a similar ‘equal billing’ basis.
  • This will be an automated, computer-driven system which will create significant administrative efficiencies.

In conjunction with this ‘equal billing’ system, the Network recommends moving to an ‘audit’ based system. Such a system should be applied in similar proportion to current tax audits and people who are audited should be entitled to the same rights of legal council and the ability to ‘negotiate’ re-payments in the same way other people negotiate tax settlements.

We believe that together, these changes will achieve a number of outcomes:

  1. This will be much easier to administer, creating significant savings within Government. These resources can then be re-invested in service delivery.
  2. This will be more efficient for service providers, allowing them to spend more time on service delivery and other operational activities that benefit the people they serve.
  3. This system will be more dignified and less intrusive for people who have a disability.
  4. People will have a more consistent and stable income stream.
  5. This will streamline rules and be much easier to understand as equal billing is a familiar concept.
  6. This will also reduce administrative errors, which are not uncommon, that trigger letters that threaten to ‘cut people off’.
  7. Other efficiencies may be found through this change, allowing for greater investment in employment services for people who have a disability.

Should the special dietary needs for all low-income people, including those receiving social assistance, be addressed through the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care?

This may be a consideration longer term but at this juncture, why get another level of government involved? This change is not deemed by the Network to be a critical issue that demands immediate attention.

 

Chapter 3

Easier to Understand

Discussion Questions – Managing Risk

Should the social assistance system move from a surveillance approach toward an audit-based system of verification and monitoring?
As noted, the Network believes that an audit system would be more efficient, much simpler and less intrusive. Along with this there must be reasonable ways to deal with overpayments and other potential abuses. Our concern is that Government tends to adopt the points they like and leave others out. To move to an audit system in isolation of the other items discussed would be unfair and could cause undue hardship to the people intended to be supported.

It should also be noted that abuses are not necessarily in the hands of the recipients. Administrative errors and mistakes are often made by the Ministry’s own staff as well.

What penalties would be required and feasible in an audit-based system?

As noted, overpayments would be reclaimed on an ‘equal billing’ basis, presumably over the following 12 month period or longer if deemed appropriate. Deliberate abuses should be dealt with within the legal framework.

What is the right level of risk tolerance, in either the current system or an audit-based system?

The current system seems to work on a presumption that abuses are rampant and people need to be kept in check. There is a cost to both a surveillance and an audit system. One would wonder, however, what this cost is and how much of our resources are going into the current surveillance system. When reviewing ‘risk tolerance’ we would be better informed if we knew what the cost of monitoring is, relative to the cost of presumed abuses.

The Network recommends that the Commission undertake a study that looks at the cost of monitoring vs. the number (and cost) of abuses that exist. In this way Government can assess the level of risk involved and build an appropriate audit system.

It is imperative that people understand the system and the rules that govern the income support system. This includes those who to manage the system, service recipients and the support organizations and advocacy groups that act on behalf of people who have a disability.

Materials, guidelines and guide books must be developed in plain language and alternate formats so that everyone can understand the rules and regulations.

Consideration should be given to support third party aides who can guide people though the income support system. These guides could also act as advocates in the event of audits and/or reviews.

While there is some concern that record keeping seems to be a bigger problem for people with disabilities in an audit based system, most people seem to be satisfied that people who have a disability should be held to the same standard of accountability as other citizens. In moving to an annual reconciliation, based on a T4 slip, this risk factor would be reduced greatly.

 

Ontario Disability Employment Network Recommendations

Recommendations – Short-term (immediate to 2 years)

  1. Disability supports – both income and employment – must be maintained as distinct and separate from other income support recipients I.E. Ontario Works. Disability is a life-long issue and a great number of the barriers faced by people who have a disability is beyond their personal control.
  2. Government should support business-to-business educational and marketing initiatives. These must include accountability measures to validate their achievements and effectiveness.
  3. An independent study of wage subsidy initiatives should be undertaken to determine if this is an effective use of resources. The study should review who uses subsidies and why and the percentage of people who retain their jobs once the subsidy is exhausted.
  4. An independent study of ‘best practices’ in employment supports should be undertaken to learn about creative and innovative approaches and how these can be replicated in the employment services sector.
  5. Create an inter-ministerial committee with a mandate to coordinate employment for people who have a disability as well as the integration of employment services with other non-employment disability departments and programs.
  6. Enhance the provincial mandate for Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees to include accessible employment. This will by timely considering the introduction of the AODA Integrated Standards.
  7. Modify the eligibility requirements for ODSP Employment Supports such that once an individual is deemed eligible for ODSP Income Support, they are automatically eligible for employment supports, eliminating the need for employment service agencies to get additional approvals prior to assisting these individuals to find employment.
  8. Streamline the approval process for people who have a disability who are not in receipt of Income Support so that they are not forced to become Income Support recipients in order to access employment services.
  9. Conduct a review of funding for day programs within the MCSS DS branch and MOH, to determine the extent to which these funds are financing employment programs.
  10. Review other funding programs for people who have a disability and ensure they don’t conflict with, compete or undermine the objectives of employment services e.g. individualized funding, DS supported employment service guidelines, etc.
  11. Create a provincial resource to support innovation.
  12. Employment Ontario agents should begin to engage and collaborate with Municipalities, local Workforce Development Boards and Employment Sector Councils.
  13. Ensure better education for people who have a disability and their advocates to ensure they understand how the Income Support system works and the effects of earned income on their income supports and benefits.
  14. Materials and guidelines must be developed in plain language and alternate formats to assist everyone to understand the rules and regulations related to the income support system.
  15. Create a system of third-party aids (or bolster and expand upon the APSW concept) who can guide people through the income support system to ensure everyone knows and understands the rules and regulations.
  16. Eliminate the ‘punitive’ approach to people who make mistakes in income reporting.
  17. Housing subsidies should be managed as part of the ‘total’ income security package. Reductions of housing subsidies should be on a sliding scale and initiated when the combination of income supports and wages is much closer to the reference wage or other poverty-level indicators. To earn extra income from wages is pointless if it triggers an off-setting increase to costs.
  18. Do not create a separate basic income program for people who have more severe disabilities. The negative consequences of such a move far outweigh the benefits.
  19. The Network does not believe that moving the special dietary allowance to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is a critical issue at this time.
  20. The Network recommends the Commission undertake a study to determine the cost of monitoring income support abuses vs. the number and costs of abuses that have been reported in order to assess an appropriate response and level of risk management.

Recommendations – Medium-term (2 to 5 years)

  1. Government must create an employment policy framework that sets out the parameters – policies, programs and funding – that all ministries and government departments must adhere to.
  2. Government must move to a single stream of funding for all employment services for people who have a disability and this funding should be managed by MTCU. This should include ODSP-ES, MTCU EO (disability funds), employment programs for students who have a disability and Service Canada Opportunities Fund. This should be done under a discreet and protected framework specified for the delivery of employment services for people who have a disability. Employment Ontario must become the service delivery manager and contract out the delivery of direct services to third-party delivery agents that specialize in providing employment services for people who have a disability.
  3. Develop and include youth employment programs – summer and after school jobs – as a legitimate stream within employment services for people who have a disability.
  4. Create policies that direct ‘new’ investments for daytime support services to prioritize those programs and initiatives that promote employment and/or employment preparation
  5. Create a transition strategy to assist existing sheltered workshops to transition to employment programs
  6. Create a provincial mandate that all school boards must ensure co-op work placements for high school students over the age of 16.
  7. Support and work with the employment service sector and service participants to establish standards of practice for employment service agencies.
  8. Further investigation is needed with respect to incentives and the Income Support/earned wages balance. Today we still seem to have more questions than answers. Focus on fixing those aspects of the system that can readily be improved.
  9. Consider changing the asset rules and limits for people newly entering the Income Support system.
  10. Provide further studies and consultation on an ‘earned income supplement’ approach. Propose some realistic scenarios, with dollar values included, to help fully evaluate the merits of this approach.
  11. Change the reporting and rate structure to a technology-based system that mirrors an ‘equal billing’ process similar to that which is used by utilities companies. The potential savings from this action alone will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions. These precious resources can be re-invested in the delivery system to help more people get into the workforce.
  12. In conjunction with this ‘equal billing’ system, Government should move to an audit-based accountability system. This will also create substantial savings in government efficiencies and in the service system that can also be re-invested in the service delivery system.

Recommendations – Longer-term (5 years +)

  1. Investigate the potential and benefits of establishing an ‘Ontario College of Employment Services’ for people who have a disability as a possible oversight body. This could include an advisory body of service recipients, employers and government.
  2. Investigate and consider an accreditation process for employment service providers to ensure service quality and conformity to established standards of practice.
  3. Further study is needed with respect to creating a health benefit program for all low income Ontarians. In principle the Network supports this move but more details are needed in terms of how this will be financed and the impact of this benefit.
  4. Assess and evaluate the impact of the actions taken in the short- and medium-turn recommendations, and resulting changes to the employment and income support system for people who have a disability.
  5. Establish the next level of strategic analysis and actions necessary to continue to improve the employment options for people who have a disability.


Appendices
Appendix A – Path to Employment

Appendix B – Barriers to Employment

Appendix C – MCSS Supported Employment Code Explanation

 


* Note: there seems to be a common misconception that Supported Employment is unpaid or work paid at less than minimum wage. The definition of Supported Employment is ‘paid work at commensurate rates and in accordance with labour law’. While some employment service operators have modified this definition on some occasions, largely due to a lack of monitoring and regulations, most employment service operators adhere to the full wage definition – ‘real work for real pay’.

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Community Living Ontario’s Community Inclusion Initiative Report . . .


Community Living Ontario’s Community Inclusion Initiative Report on:

The delivery of Education Services For Students Who Have an Intellectual Disability in the Province Of Ontario

“This report is a snapshot of the special education service delivery for students who have an intellectual disability in the Province of Ontario. Its aim is to provide an overview of inclusionary practices for students who have an intellectual disability. The goal of this document is not to critique current practice but rather to present facts and perspective in relation to a population of students who, in the view of Community Living Ontario and the authors, among many others, have been neglected in the movement towards inclusive practice. The recommendations in this report may be used by families, advocates and educators, to support their ongoing efforts to access resources and opportunities for persons who have an intellectual disability.”

VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT HERE

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Strategies Used by Employment Service Providers in the Job Development Process


Strategies Used by Employment Service Providers in the Job Development Process: Are they consistent with what employers want?

 

Dr. Luecking, President of TransCen Inc., was one of the keynote speakers at the Ontario Disability Employment Network’s Conference in Alliston this past November.  Dr. Luecking collaborated on this recently released technical report which focuses upon strategies used by job developers and how they resonate with employers.  Although this study was undertaken in the U.S,. it may contain lessons for providers of employment services here in Ontario as well.

We asked The Network’s Employer Champion Leauge member, Mark Wafer, who owns a number of Tim Horton’s stores in the Toronto area for his opinion of the study and this is what he had to say:

“This is a very well written article, in fact it mirrors very closely to what I say all the time about nurturing relationships with employers, using strategies that work for the business and following up constantly to ensure success.  Any time I speak with service providers this is the message I present.

This article would be a good handout to a lot of the service providers i have met recently who still use the same old charity approach.”

Mark Wafer

http://www.dol.gov/odep/ietoolkit/publications/500.pdf

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People Who Have a Disability and the Barriers to Employment – Issues and Solutions


June, 2011

1. Employer Misconceptions and Discrimination

Employer Misconception #1: Liability & Safety

Employer Misconception #2: Increased Costs

There are a number of cost-associated fears that employers express:

  • the cost of accommodations;
  • loss of productivity due to disability;
  • lost time due to disability related illness;
  • increased WSIB (noted above) and benefits costs; and
  • increased time/cost of training and supervision.

Employer Misconception #3: Fear of the Unknown

Employer Misconception #4: Fear of Firing

 

Solutions to Employer Misconceptions and Work-Related Discrimination

Solution:  Accessibility for Ontarians with a Disability Act (AODA)

Solution: Dispel the myths and misconceptions – ‘stereotypes and bias’

Solution:  Needs Based Job Development Strategy

People who have a disability often require an employment agency job developer to ‘sell’ the client based on the critical needs of the employer.

The candidate and employer will need support services to assist the employer to integrate a person who has a disability into their workforce and to learn the specific skills of the job

Some employment agencies have made gains by addressing the perception of additional costs and supports through customer service programs that offer guarantees.

In addition, many organizations offer assistance to help transition an employee who is not meeting the job requirements to alternate employment.

Solution: On-the-Job Employment and Employer Supports

Working with the employer, employment staff develop a measurable plan to ensure, over time, the employee will achieve the essential skills of the job and become self sufficient in their work.  Employment staff may also assist the employer with workplace accommodations which may range from adaptive devices to successful workforce integration (co-worker relationships).  Supported Employment, this strategy provides assistance such as job coaches, job retention assistance, transportation training and/or assistance, assistive technology, specialized job training, and individually tailored supervision.

Solution:  Employer Education

Ongoing education and awareness is key to dispelling employer misconceptions.

 

2. The Nature of Disability

Nature of Disability Issue #1:  The Range and Scope of Disabilities

The range and scope of disabilities is vast.  Each disability presents its own challenges and barriers often requiring specific and unique accommodations and supports.  Further, each disability has a broad range of limitations, from mild to very severe, that may affect the individual’s level of independence.  Furthermore there are a large number of people who have multiple disabilities which can compound an individual’s limitations.  For the purpose of social participation and daily activity, including participation in the workforce, the severity and associated limitations of the disability defines the supports and interventions people need.

Often the disability, onto itself, poses other related barriers. For example a person who has an intellectual disability also may not be able to read or write; a person who is deaf may need a range of interpreter options (sign language, note takers, closed captioning); a person who has a physical disability may need accommodations for travel as well as physical accommodations within the workplace and a person with epilepsy may take medications which cause memory problems and need a procedures manual with personalized notes for reference. In each case, the interventions and supports required to achieve success on the job will be different.

Nature of Disability Issue #2: Individual Motivation

The life experiences of people who have a disability will have a significant impact on their vocational success.  Some individuals who have a disability have been programmed into a life of dependency and control by others. They lack self confidence, initiative and the motivation that drives independence, often relying too heavily on the support of others, even for the most basic of life’s tasks and decisions.  Many of the clients that Employment Agencies provide services for are not self directed. These individuals will not readily or independently: show up for appointments; read a job ad and forward a resume; follow verbal or written instructions that have multiple steps; understand the services and supports that are available to them; know how to exercise their rights; or, understand the demands and culture of a workplace. While some people who have a disability who are well educated and/or have a reasonable work history, may be self directed and able to access generic, mainstream supports, this is not the typical clientele that shows up at the doors of specialized Employment Agencies.  Readiness and willingness to work – motivation is one of, and arguably, the most important quality to ensure successful employment for this group.

Nature of Disability Issue #3: Limited Education and Work History

The level of education attained can be an indicator of success in the workforce.  The severity of a disability, regardless of type, can affect educational achievement.  People with severe or very severe disabilities are more likely not to have a high school diploma, and thus any higher education.  According to the 2010 Federal Disability Report 19.3% of individuals with a disability indicate that they feel their training is not adequate to become employed. Many people, especially those with a severe or very severe disability, also have limited or no work history.  Many people who have a disability were excluded from the student job market where they would learn their first lessons of responsibility and workplace culture. This is also when many people develop and formulate their career goals and expectations.  As such, they have no idea about what jobs or careers are suitable to match their skills and interests as they have limited exposure to the labour market.  Related work experience and education are the two key job match criteria for a hiring employer.

Nature of Disability Issue #4: Limited Capacity Due to Disability

A significant portion of working-age adults are not in the labour market at all as they do not have the capacity or ability to work due to their disabilities.  Some are significantly limited in the type of work they can do.  Others feel they cannot participate in the labour market simply because they do not have the ability to look for work.  It must be noted that individuals with a disability that are not actively looking for employment are not included in unemployment statistics but would be captured in the employment participation rate.

Nature of Disability Issue #5: Fear of Failure

Many individuals who have a disability have had limited employment experiences and many have had bad experiences or have tried jobs that failed. In addition, many people struggled to gain access to ODSP Income Supports and are hesitant to have this benefit put at risk. Irrespective of experiences, there is a very real fear of failure and the impact failure will have on their eligibility to regain ODSP Income Supports. People do not understand or, in some cases trust, the government’s rapid reinstatement policies.

 

Solutions to the Nature of Disability

Solution: Specialized Employment Agencies

Each intervention is unique and customized to the specific needs of the job seeker. Specialized Employment Agencies have developed expertise over the past 30 years. This has been driven by the needs of the individuals served and the lack of success provided by other models of service delivery. In the 70’s and early 80’s, everyone who wanted to work went to the Canada Manpower Centre. If you had a disability, you were referred to the sheltered workshop for a life of menial labour without pay. Since those days, much has been learned about specific strategies to assist people who have a disability to access the labour market so that they can be contributing members of society.

Solution: Facilitated Job Selection

To address the issue of limited education and work history it is important that the individual in this situation be provided with resources and support to identify realistic job goals. For these people job exploration/preparation programs are a necessity. This may include:

  • Time limited pre-employment preparation programs
  • Job trials to help assess individual’s suitability and interest in the job;
  • Unpaid work experiences to measure the individual’s skills relative to the essential skills of the job;
  • Interest testing and or formal skills testing; and
  • Labour market research to ensure the job is available in the community.

At the conclusion of this phase the individual looking for work should have a realistic job goal in-line with their skills (or potential skills) and related work and/or life experiences. The goal, if available in their community labour market, must then consider the appropriate supports needed based on the individual’s disability and be something they are motivated to pursue.  Development of a realistic job goal is critical to securing and retaining work.

Solution: Motivational Interventions

A significant yet under acknowledged component of an Employment Agency’s work is assessing and building the individual’s motivation to work.  As noted above, motivation and personal independence is a significant contributor to retaining employment.  Due to the life experience of persons with disabilities, especially those with moderate and severe disabilities, Employment Agencies spend time working with clients to help them gain awareness of their motivational level and remove the barriers related to lack of independence, self confidence and other lifestyle related issues.  While the client is working toward greater independence, Employment Agencies will provide a degree of personal assistance. This will range from reminder calls prior to appointments to accompanying people to go to appointments and interviews and even intervening during and after these appointments.  Addressing motivational issues is not a focus of employment agencies dealing with the general public but is an important component of the support to successfully place people who have a disability.

Solution: Place and Train Model

Many community Employment Agencies have moved away from the traditional vocational rehabilitation ‘train and place’ model. The reality for people with a disability, who may have limited education and work experience, is that they are uncertain what to train for. In the past many of these individuals ended up in training programs that went on for years. Very few graduated and moved on to employment. In the mid 80’s, primarily prompted by the developmental sector, agencies started moving to the ‘place and train’ model. This model, based on the premise that people learned to work best in the workplace, proved to be much more efficient and effective. Supports are provided by the Employment Agency in the workplace in coordination with the employer.  The employee’s hours and responsibilities at work increase over time as their capacity and work skills improve.  Over time, this model has been adopted by many service providers supporting people with other disabilities and, in turn, other types of employment barriers.

Solution: Client Education

Often Agency staff spends considerable time educating clients about government regulations and policies; various programs and supports available; the ODSP Income Support system and the impact on benefits as a result of working; and what rights they have to services and supports.   This type of education is often necessary to provide some assurance to clients that the risk-reward to gain employment can be balanced (see System Barrier #1).

 

3. System Barriers

System Barrier #1: The Income Supports System

For an individual with a disability the risk-reward equation is out of balance.  People who have a disability and are recipients of the ODSP Income Support program loose $0.50 on every dollar earned (beyond the $100 monthly work incentive). Even though the person is always better off working, there exists a perception that ‘it’s not worth it”. The financial gain from work (which is often part-time for people who are getting their first job or re-entering the workforce) does not create an incentive to follow this path.  This perception is coupled with the fear that if the job does not work out, the person will not be able to get back on the income support system or will face delays that will put their well being at risk.

There are also some very real and legitimate concerns about what happens when a person declares employment income.

  • Income fluctuations. People may, for various reasons, see great fluctuations in their employment income. At the same time people, living on the edge of poverty, tend to spend what they have. This combined with the lag in Income Support, due to reporting processes, makes for a very untenable result. People will often choose to live with less, but consistent, income in order to maintain security and stability.
  • Impact on subsidized housing. When people report their income there is the possibility that they will loose their housing subsidy. When you combine the increased rental payments with the 50 cent on the dollar equation people may, in a very real way, be in greater financial difficulty.
  • Employment Insurance. People who have a disability who have worked long enough to be EI eligible must exhaust that system of supports before returning to the ODSP system – both in terms of financial supports and employment supports. At this time the EI system does not have the capacity or ability to adequately support people who have a disability, particularly when it comes to employment supports.

All in all, people who have a disability often look at these variables and conclude that the risk of pursuing paid employment is not offset by the financial rewards.

System Barrier #2: A Patchwork of Funding

In Ontario there are 5 key government funding sources of employment programs for people who have a disability – MCSS ODSP-ES, MCSS DSA, MTCU Employment Ontario, Ministry of Health & Long Term Care and Service Canada.  Some Employment Agencies receive funding from only one government source while others access several and some access them all.  Agencies may also secure fee-for service business from private sources such as insurance companies and additional revenues from donations or foundations may also be solicited. This patchwork of funding is timely to manage, inefficient and inconsistent in its application. The reality however, is that some Agencies find this the only way to provide a ‘complete’ basket of services and supports that meet the needs of their customers – both employers and the people who have a disability they serve.

As an example imagine an Employment Agency within an organization that primarily serves a population of individuals who have an intellectual disability. To be viable and meet the needs of people requesting assistance they have secured funding from multiple sources.

  • Job exploration/preparation is paid for by Service Canada Opportunities funding.
  • Job Development and initial coaching is paid for by ODSP-ES.
  • Wage subsidies and the Resource Centre are funded by Employment Ontario
  • Once the ODSP-ES funding for job coaches runs out, on-going coaching, employer supports and trouble-shooting are covered by the agency’s Developmental Services funding as is assistance for career development and job advancement.
  • The agencies quality assurance and marketing programs were also paid for with a combination of funding from the Developmental Services budget and private donations.

Remove any one of these funding sources or dramatically change the rules and two things happen: 1. Key elements of the service are at risk as is a successful outcome; and 2. The financial viability of the entire program is at risk as, over the years, there has become an inter-relationship of funding to support the overhead costs e.g. office space, staff, training programs, etc.

Many agencies, however, do not have access to all these funding mechanisms and, therefore, are not able to provide some of the critical supports and services their clients require. This often results in poor job retention by the client.

System Barrier #3: Lack of Policy Framework

Ontario lacks an overall policy framework that focuses on employment for people who have a disability. As a result, various ministries and their branches compete with each other and/or lack clarity about their mandate and funding parameters. This leads to the patchwork of funding described above. In addition, other disability programs often compete or undermine employment programs.  Historic service delivery models such as sheltered workshops continue. These programs have limited ability to move people through the service to employment and clients stagnate.  These programs tie-up employment related funding/resources for non-employment related outcomes and entrench people who have a disability to a life of dependency on social assistance.

New service delivery models such as individualized funding – Special Services at Home, Passport, etc. – are unregulated and allow people to do almost anything they want. In many cases as a way to ‘extend’ these resources, families and independent support workers are placing people in volunteer positions in private sector, for profit businesses. This emerging trend directly competes with other people who have a disability who are seeking real, paid employment. Employers who get free labour refuse pay for labour from what they see as the same source or labour pool. Responses like: “I don’t pay for those people any more. I get them for free” is a stated roadblock. This has become a much more prevalent issue in recent years.


Solutions to System Issues

Solution:  A Policy Framework that Frames and Coordinates Employment Supports

When it comes to day options and programs, Ontario needs a Policy Framework that crosses all Provincial Ministries and Departments that fund services, supports and programs for people who have a disability – MCSS DSA, MCSS ODSP-ES, MTCU Employment Ontario, Ministry of Health, Provincial portions of Service Canada, Municipal Employment Programs and Ministry of Education. This Policy Framework should place employment as the top funding priority for daytime supports and services for people who have a disability. It also builds in coordination and collaboration among all funding jurisdictions to ensure people who have a disability can access the services and supports they need. Often referred to ‘Employment First’, this policy framework:

  • Focuses on integrated work at commensurate wages – “real work for real pay”
  • Is not a ‘work for welfare’ approach whereby participation in work is required in order to access income support or that penalizes people for non-participation.

An ‘Employment First’ policy framework has been adopted in many US jurisdictions. For example, Employment First Policy was adopted in Washington State where it was reported in 2008 that 87% of people with intellectual disabilities receiving employment and day supports participated in integrated employment. [1] In Washington State this is primarily a policy framework for people who have an intellectual disability, however, we believe it would have similar impact across all disability types.

 

4. Employment Agencies

Employment Agencies for people who have a disability, although they exist to assist people to secure employment, may unintentionally contribute to the employment gap between people who have a disability and those without.

Employment Agency Issue #1: Limiting Service Offering

In today’s reality, Employment Agencies are often required to limit their service offering due to funding levels and contractual targets that are negotiated with the funder. The consequences of this are three-fold:

  1. Customer service for the employer is limited. Agencies cannot afford to provide on-going coaching, trouble shooting, or implement employer satisfaction programs. This ‘place and run’ scenario has a negative impact on job retention.
  2. Intentionally or not, people who have a disability are routinely screened ‘out’ of employment services if their disability and subsequent level of support is considered too costly. Even for those who are supported to find jobs, job quality and support for career advancement is not available. Employment preparation programs that assess a candidate’s skills and abilities to ensure a good fit and a better chance for job retention are less and less available.
  3. Employment Agencies are weakened by failing infrastructure and lack the resources to invest in things such as marketing initiatives, staff training, planning, innovation, service quality and evaluation.

Employment Agency Issue #2: Lack of Effective Marketing Resources

Employment Agencies need marketing materials and strategies that specifically target the employer audience. This means allocating both financial and staff resources, on an on-going basis, to successfully educate business and gain their support for the hiring of people who have a disability.  Very few agencies have the resources or budget to develop marketing materials and programs.  Staff who work in the employment field are not necessarily skilled at developing sophisticated marketing campaigns or strategies.

Employment Agency Issue #3:  Lack of Focus on Employers

Businesses need assistance in various areas: creating organizational policies, procedures and planning related to hiring and accommodating workers with disabilities; orientation and training for employees, supervisors and managers; on-going trouble shooting when problems occur and, outplacement when needed. Without effective customer service and proper supports for the business, employee problems are often overlooked and not addressed until they have reached a crisis level and employment is terminated as a result. On-going communication and follow up with the employer will enhance job retention.  Employment Agencies need to respond to the needs of business as well as the needs of their clientele.  As such businesses must also be regarding as a client.

Employment Agency Issue #4: Lack of Infrastructure

Some Employment Agencies suffer the consequences of a lack of investment in their organization. The impact of the lack of investment compromises business practices that are essential to a vital and quality operation. While it would be untrue to say that all agencies suffer in all these areas, there are significant shortcomings in many agencies across the province. When revenue and thus investment is lagging the following business practices may be impacted:

  • Lack of business or strategic planning;
  • Minimal resources for staff training and skill development (beyond that which is legislated);
  • Limited or poor quality assurance programs;
  • Little focus on business innovation;
  • Weak or non-existent service evaluation strategies; and
  • Limited ability to explore diversification of business opportunities or revenue sources.

It is difficult to assess, with any certainty, agencies that provide quality services and achieve exceptional outcomes without examining how the system continues to undermine itself and its operating entities.

Employment Agency Issue #5: Lack of Standards and Credentials

Most Employment Agencies are staffed with well-qualified, trained employees who have specialized in social work and/or in providing personal supports. Social Services diplomas and degrees and Developmental Service Worker programs from a community college are generalist programs and provide very little training in employment services and no training in marketing or business.  As such, Agency employees must receive this training on the job.

Vocational Rehabilitation Canada (VRA) and the College of Vocational Rehabilitation Ontario are striving to develop professional designations and standards of practice and conduct within this sector.  Unfortunately, at this time, these organizations cater largely to those working within the sector that have university degrees or a ‘Masters’ designation.  In many Employment Agencies a college diploma is the standard for employees therefore, they cannot fully take advantage of this professional association.  Thus the services for people who have a disability are largely un-regulated.

Solutions to Issues Concerning Employment Agencies

Solution: Collaboration – Providing Enhanced Assistance to Business

Employment Agencies need to understand and respond to the needs of businesses as well as the needs of their clientele. There are examples of experiences and practices that demonstrate that superior results can be achieved when services and supports are provided in a collaborative fashion by Employment Agencies.  This includes marketing campaigns and education directed to the employer.   Further allocation or re-allocation of resources will be required to develop and sustain collaborative models.  Collaborative models should be expanded across the province in close cooperation with all funding bodies.

Solution: Reward Positive Outcomes

While specialized services may need to be paid on a fee-for-service basis, government should find a way to reward positive outcomes – jobs. This should also include ways to recognize higher quality jobs – those with greater hours worked, better wages, benefits and working conditions as well as greater support needs for those with more significant disabilities. If organizations had a base budget to cover off essential infrastructure requirements and augmented this with financial incentives based on performance, we would likely see better outcomes in Ontario.

Solution: Profession Standards for College Graduates

Working with VRA and/or the College, Employment Agencies should adopt standards of operation, quality assurance measures and ethics and thereby provide sound training and credentials for employment service professionals who do not have a university degree but are currently working within the sector.

Solution: Invest in Employment Services

Dependency on Social Assistance and Income Support is rising at dramatic, if not out of control, proportions. Last year taxpayers spent over $3.3 billion on ODSP Income Supports. Yet, in spite of the recognition that helping people get into the workforce is key to managing this expenditure, the ODSP Employment Support budget for the same period was $55 million with only about $35 million of that going to direct employment supports for people who have a disability.

If government truly wants to see greater gains in employment for people who have a disability, they must take a hard look at the investments that are required.

 

In Summary

Through the exploration of employers, the nature of disability, income and employment support systems and employment agencies, this document has reviewed many of the issues which impact the disparity in the rate of gainful employment between people who have a disability and those without a disability.  Solutions, from the perspective of the agencies that currently serve people who have a disability have been developed to facilitate resolution to these long term and often chronic issues.

We hope that these insights provide information and an enhanced perspective regarding people who have a disability and their specific and sometimes unique employment support needs.  We also anticipate that Employment Ontario will consider this information as it relates to integration of people who have a disability into their future service delivery strategies.


Appendix A               The Path to Employment

Pre-employment Preparation

Assessment, Resume development, Interview skills, Employment Life skills, Training

Job Development

Finding the job, Employer engagement, self directed vs. assisted

Job Retention

Career Development

Job Coaching, Trouble shooting, Employer assistance

Quality Assurance

Employer satisfaction

Candidate satisfaction

Evaluation & Improvement Strategies

Appendix B                Success Stories/best practice


[1] Achieving social and economic inclusion: from segregation to ‘employment first’ CACL June, 2011.

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The Path to Employment


January 30, 2012

An overview of the services, supports and interventions that contribute to successful employment outcomes for people who have a disability.

It is important to note that the ‘path to employment’ is unique for each individual who has a disability and in no way should be considered linear. Not all people who have a disability will require all interventions that are described below, nor will they necessarily require these interventions in the order that they are listed.

It should also be noted that Employment Service Agencies must also look at employers and the business community as ‘customers’ of their services and supports.

The outcome of the ‘path to employment’ for people who have a disability is a successful match between a motivated job seeker and the needs of an employer that takes into consideration disability related factors that affect job options, job search strategies, negotiating the job, accommodations, support needs, job retention and career development.

Pre-employment Preparation

1.  Assessment: varies from very formal to informal. Sometimes the type of assessment will vary depending on the service options that the agency provides and/or the individual being assessed – the nature and type of disability, the agency’s familiarity with the individual and so on.

a/ Formal – Psycho-social, prescribed skills testing i.e. cognitive skills, motor skills, dexterity, job specific skills, etc.

b/ Informal – Often a more organic or intuitive means to learning about the individual’s skills, abilities and interests. Often this is done in conjunction with number 2 below – Employment Preparation.

c/ Review of client history – work experience, education, training, volunteer experience, personal plans and goals, etc.

d/ Workplace Assessments – Assessing a candidates potential to do a specific job or interest in a particular employment sector.

The outcome of the assessment will:

  • Confirm that the job seeker is motivated to work;
  • Identify factors that may influence the job seeker’s ability to search for and maintain work e.g. transportation limitations, attendant care needs, specific accommodation requirements, impact on current benefits etc.
  • Create an inventory  the job seeker’s education, skills, experience, interests and social networks which are relevant to vocational exploration;
  • Assess the job seeker’s capacity and tolerances for vocational training (formal or informal); and
  • Determine the type of work to pursue or, if work is the best option for the client at this point in time.

The assessment phase establishes the job seeker’s work related attributes, confirms the job seeker is motivated to work and ensures the job seeker understands the implications of seeking, acquiring and maintaining work.

2. Employment Preparation: varies from ‘curriculum based’ programs to individual interventions by an employment counselor and/or formal training. These programs often help assess career goals and the supports and interventions the individual will require.

a/  Individual interventions – highly dependent on the individual client and how they present to the agency e.g. is their resume current, do they have relevant experience, do they have a realistic career goal, can a career path be mapped out and to what degree is the individual self-directed

b/  Curriculum based services – Many organizations provide a curriculum based job readiness program that will assist with resume development, interview skills, and employment life skills. Often this program is also used as a form of assessment – does the person show up regularly and on time, do they demonstrate reliability; have the ability to follow direction and informal skills? Do they have the right attitude? Are there barriers and challenges previously not understood? Can an appropriate job or career goal be identified, etc.?

c/  Training – is there specific occupational or career training required. In most cases the individual will be referred to the appropriate training program but often will need assistance to find the right training institute, go through the application and enrollment processes, organize financial support (if needed) and so on.

d/  Disability Specific Accessibility and Accommodation Planning and Preparation

  • Counseling related to the job seeker’s specific disability and implications in the workplace
  • Assisting the job seeker in assessing and determining what accommodations are needed in order to successfully maintain employment (e.g. – mode of transportation, communication access in the workplace, need for Personal Support Worker, etc.)
  • Prepare job seeker for possible workplace accessibility and attitudinal barriers they may face in the workplace, and how to problem solve these challenges.
  • Assist the job seeker in coordinating and setting up a natural support system; determining who can be involved in the circle of care; etc.
  • Counseling related to issues of disclosure, implications, Human Rights etc.
  • At the completion of the employment preparation phase job seeker will:

    • Explore job options and preferences based on information gathered during assessment phase relative to the labour market within the community;
    • Have acquired specific job and/or career skills related to a specific trade or profession;
    • Address disability related factors that may impact work related performance;
    • Develop job finding and job retention skills and behaviours;
    • Develop knowledge and skills related to vocational options; and
    • Gain job related experience.
    • Be ready to pursue an appropriate and suitable job/career.

    The employment preparation phase readies the job seeker to meet the needs of the employer by helping them become job ready.

    Job Development

    1.  Employer engagement: Job developers need to educate employers and sell them on hiring people who have a disability.

    a/  Educating Employers – employers need to understand the benefits that their business will derive from hiring people who have a disability. They also need to be educated about the viability of people who have a disability in the workplace.

    b/  Disability expertise – agencies are often seen by employers as the ‘experts’ in disability and interact in a consulting capacity. This can range from providing accommodations information and assistance to training for supervisors and managers, to problem solving when issues arise.

    c/  Pre-screening candidates – often employers look to the agency to pre-screen and select appropriate candidates for the job. Sometimes this can be to assess a small group of candidates to be interviewed and sometimes this can be to send a single candidate and by-pass the interview process altogether. In this respect the employer relates to the agency in the same way they relate to other private placement firms or temp agencies. To ensure a successful match this places a heavy burden on the agency to investigate and fully understand the employer’s workplace, work culture, specific job requirements, etc.

    2.  Finding the job: One might well ask: “If  people who have a disability were competitive in the labour market why would we need employment service agencies?” The reality, however, is that most people who have a disability who engage employment agencies are not self directed and many lack the necessary training and/or work experience that would make them truly competitive. They will need assistance to find the job.

    a/  Job Development – Job development typically happens in two ways: 1. determine the client’s job/career goals and look for a suitable job; or, 2. mine for job opportunities in the business sector (the goal of Employer Engagement strategies described in 1 above) and then look to your candidate pool for a suitable fit or match.

    b/  Looking for work – often, people who have a disability require assistance to look for a job, make a call for an interview or even go to an interview independently.

    Job Developers often: make the call to set up an interview; and, accompany the candidate to the interview. The agency is often selling a ‘package’ which consists of the client and the agency’s support services.

    c/  Job Match – matching the candidate to the job is the most critical step in the process. Ensuring the client’s skills and abilities match the requirements of the job and that there is a good ‘fit’ between the client and the business in terms of workplace culture, meeting the employer’s expectations, the employer’s willingness to accommodate the individual, etc.

    During the job match phase the job seeker may:

    • Have their essential skills matched with the needs of employers (traditional placement or job carving);
    • Be presented to employers where there is potential to hire;
    • Undertake a self-directed job search; and
    • Get a job.

    The outcome of the job match phase is a competitive job for the job seeker.  During this phase a secondary client is developed – the employer.  The outcome for the employer is a successful hire. At the same time, a satisfied employer opens the door to ‘repeat’ business and/or referrals for the agency.

    Job Retention

    1.  Job Coaching – Can range from intensive training at the initial placement stage to minor accommodation assistance and to periodic interventions and retraining.

    a/  On the job training – often employers rely on the agency to provide the initial job training due to situations where training may take longer than other employees or where productivity may be lower at the on-set of the job. The job coach should always be in a position to assess a phasing out of their services so as to not create a dependency on this service.

    b/  Off the job issues – Many people who have a disability need assistance with other personal issues and/or skills in order to maintain their job. Some need transportation training to get to and from the job, assistance with financial reporting, housing and so on.

    2.  Follow Up – Usually done as routine visits and/or phone calls that diminish over time.

    a/  Provides customer service to the employer to ensure on-going satisfaction, retention for the employee and possible repeat business for future candidates

    b/  Provides support to the employee to ensure satisfaction with the job and the individual’s career aspirations are being met E.g. increases in hours of work and wages, new skill development and potential job mobility within the business

    c/  Trouble shooting and problem solving before issues become irreconcilable, leading to increased retention

    During the job retention phase the employee may:

    • Be provided with on-the-job supports to develop work proficiency;
    • Have ‘arms-length’ support through a systematic check-in or trouble shooting system; and
    • Observe that the employer is also being supported in accommodating the employee’s needs.

    The outcome of the job retention phase is the new employee performing the duties of the job to the satisfaction of the employer thereby retaining the job independently.

    3.  Customer Service – Good employment service providers must see employers as their ‘customer’ and, as such, pay special attention to providing effective customer service. If the employer is happy and has his/her needs met, they are more likely to retain the employee and more likely to do repeat business with the service provider. Business operators tell us: “We’re experts at doing business; we’re not experts in disability”. From this perspective, business operators often look to the service agency as specialized consultants for their employee(s) who have a disability.

    a/  Trouble shooting – Employers look to the service agency for assistance when issues arise on the job – poor performance, safety, poor or inappropriate behaviour, etc.

    b/  Out-placement – It has been cited that the number one reason businesses don’t hire is the fear of firing. Businesses fear bad PR, Human Rights complaints and personal discomfort with firing or laying off someone who is already seen to be at a disadvantage. Many service agencies provide out-placement assistance. That is; they help transition an employee who is not working out into a job that is a better fit.

    c/  Periodic Interventions – Workplaces evolve and the scope of a particular job may change. Often the agency will be called in to re-train the employee, realign the work station, etc. In cases where a disability might be periodic, cyclical or degenerative additional workplace accommodations may be required. Sometimes supervisors and/or managers will change and this may require re-orientation to the disability and/or accommodations.

    4.  Career development – Many people who have a disability start out in entry level positions; part-time and at low wages, often without benefits. At the same time surveys have demonstrated that people who have a disability often do not advocate on their own behalf and quit their jobs out of frustration. People are afraid to ask for more hours, pay raises or opportunity to compete for more advanced jobs within the workplace. Employers tend to think that if nothing is said, everything must be okay. People who have a disability often need assistance and advocacy to assist them to progress within the workplace or to move forward along a career path. Sometimes this means changing jobs, as their capacity and experience improves.

    Quality Assurance

    1.  Evaluation & Improvement Strategies – Employment service agencies need to invest time and resources in effective quality assurance measures. The agency must ensure it has a continuous quality improvement plan and process in place.

    2.  Employer satisfaction – The service provider must also ensure its customers are satisfied with their services. Formal employer satisfaction surveys and reviews can be implemented and often lead to repeat business as well as ensuring long-term success

    3.  Candidate satisfaction – The service provider should perform formal reviews & satisfaction surveys with clients. This will ensure a career path is in place, job satisfaction & long term stability.

    As noted in the introduction, this path is not linear and very few candidates require the all of these services and supports. For the Employment Service Agency, however, given the range of individuals they serve and the unique needs of these individuals, it is important that the complete range of services is available as determined by the candidates seeking employment.

    These are the services and supports that will lead to the greatest number of successful employment outcomes for the greatest number and range of people who have a disability.

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    Ontario Disability Employment Network – 2011, A Year in Review


    2011 has been a great year that has provided the Ontario Disability Employment Network the ability to make strides in government relationships, engage other partners, and develop new initiatives and opportunities to make a difference for persons with disabilities seeking employment.

    The following represents the highlights of our accomplishments over the past year and our commitment to being a unified voice for our membership. This has been achieved through the volunteer efforts of our Board of Directors, a one-day per week Executive Director and, of course, the contributions of our members.

    We would like to take this opportunity to again thank our sponsors and patrons. As you may know, the Network has made a conscience decision not to pursue government funding, so that our advocacy efforts are not limited or impeded. The Network’s revenue sources come from membership dues, revenue from events and training sessions and a few organizations that have generously donated financial and in-kind contributions to help the Network continue its valued work.

    It is important to the Network that we continue to remain responsive to the issues that matter most to you as we continue to meet the challenges that face us in finding and maintaining employment for people who have a disability. We are interested in getting your feedback along with your direction and support. This will assist the Network to continue to be a success and a strong voice for the employment services sector.

    Joe Dale
    Executive Director

    Debbi Soucie
    Co-Chair

    Bob Vansickle
    Co- Chair

    Communications
    We have had the opportunity over the past year to develop a number of avenues to spread the message of the Network and also encourage conversation and provide a forum to engage others when issues/concerns have arisen.

    • Website – we partnered with eSSENTIAL Accessibility Inc. in May which is a web browser for persons with a disability. This has ensured access to our website is more efficient and effective.
    Special acknowledgement goes out to our volunteer contributors, Aerin and Jimmy Guy of SpaceRace! (http://gospacerace.com/), who make having a website possible for the Network. Our site is located at http://www.odenetwork.com/
    • Twitter – for the past year we have been sharing news and updates on twitter and you can connect with the Network at http://twitter.com/#!/odenetwork
    • Facebook – we are up and running on Facebook with a page that will provide opportunities to share information and engage in conversations. We can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6scvzj2.
    • LinkedIn Group – we now have an Ontario Disability Employment Network group where opportunities are available to share resources and converse on topics of interest. Connect with us by going to http://tinyurl.com/7gkewxr.
    • Email – we can be contacted also at odenetwork@cogeco.ca

    Government Relations
    It is essential that our member organizations continue to be able to deliver quality employment services and therefore the Network has been instrumental this year in developing strong and engaging relationships with government.

    ODSP-ES
    • In May the Board of Directors of the the Network became aware of the ODSP-ES evaluations that were being conducted by Cathexis Consulting. It came to our attention, however, that a number of our members were concerned about providing contact information for the employers they work with. THE NETWORK broached this issue on behalf of the membership with the consultants and ODSP. As a result, Cathexis took a different approach to gathering information from employers.
    M.P.P. Election Strategy

    • The Network developed a tool kit that was made available to services providers to assist them in getting the attention of the candidates for the provincial election in October and also provided key messages that targeted access to services including specialized services, greater investment in employment services and an ‘Employment First’ Policy framework.

    Social Assistance Review Commission
    • On August 25th the Network submitted a report and presented a PowerPoint presentation to the commission which was very well received and this relationship continues with the Commission’s interest in receiving input from the Network as their work unfolds. At the Network’s Conference and AGM that was held in November Leah Myers, Executive Lead, of the SAR Commission presented an overview of the Commission’s findings and dialogue about how we can help more people who have a disability get into the workforce. A number of the recommendations that the Network made at the August 25th meeting were adopted into the Commission’s findings and recommendations.

    The Network’s ‘Employment Ontario Task Force’
    • As EO deliberates on its ‘disability strategy’ it was apparent that their policy staff had a very superficial understanding of disability, the barriers facing people who have a disability with respect to accessing the labour market or the services and supports they need to be successful. The EO Task Force created two documents which were presented to the policy leads at MTCU – Barriers to Inclusion and Path to Employment.
    • Along with these documents, the Network has attended a number of meetings with the ADM of MTCU and her staff team. This has resulted in the slowing down and delays to implementation of the disability strategy as they consider appropriate service options.
    • More recently, the Network has been requested by MTCU to act as a reference group to the Employment Ontario team that is responsible for their disability service strategy.

    MCSS
    • The Network continues its efforts in building relationships with ODSP and ensuring policy issues are brought to the Ministry’s attention. The Network has met with ODSP Directors Norm Helfand and more recently with the new Interim Director, Patti Redmond. Some of the issues discussed included the conflict of people supported under the DS branch that are working in private businesses without wages or at less than minimum; the inconsistency in back-dating ODSP applications across the province; the impact of modernization on referrals; challenges of the wage verification process; file review processes; and, the need to develop ‘service standards’ for the sector.
    • The Network also had direct meetings and correspondence with the ODSP ‘Modernization’ unit.
    • The Network continues to gather and promote input from our sector and shares this with MCSS.

    Ontario’s Speech from The Throne
    It must also be noted that the Network received an invitation by the Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in November to attend the Speech from the Throne, which was graciously attended by two of our Board members and Employer Champion League member Mayor Mike Bradley of Sarnia.

    Employer Engagement and Marketing Initiatives
    This area is extremely important not only to the Board, but also our members. It is vital that we develop opportunities and initiatives that will continue to improve the participation of people with a disability in the workforce. We have found that ‘employer champions’, as recognized through the Network’s Champion’s League, is a vital and effective way to extend our capacity and gain positive results.

    Champion’s League
    Finding and working with Champions is a tremendous help to moving forward and creating positive changes in the employment situation for people who have a disability.
    • At our second annual AGM and Conference we were able to recognize and acknowledge a new Champion, Mr. Dennis Winkler who, as an employer, fit the criteria of someone deserving to be part of the Champion’s League.
    • Our past Champion’s League recipients continue to demonstrate the value in hiring people with a disability and the work being done in our sector. The formation of this league has provided a venue to continue to promote and plan initiatives to advance the work being done on behalf of persons with disabilities.
    • The Champion’s League continues to receive strong support from Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, David Onley. The League continues to hold strategy meetings with His Honour regularly at his offices at the legislature as well as participate in events geared to promote hiring to the business community in Ontario such as Rotary at Work and others.

    Mayor’s Challenge
    • Once again this year we have had the support of Mike Bradley, Mayor of Sarnia. His dedication and willingness to speak on behalf of the Network and its membership to other organizations and mayors has continue to provide an awareness and has challenged other communities start “Doing the Right Thing” by including a person with a disability in their workforce.
    • Organizations across the province continue to approach their mayors to also put into action the need to respond to the hiring of persons with disabilities.
    • A Mayor’s Challenge Toolkit has been made available on our website for Network members.

    Other Niche Opportunities
    Each of the Champions has continued to explore new opportunities. Joe Hoffer has been instrumental at gaining access to the Ontario Police Services Board and the Law Society of Ontario. We plan to exploit these opportunities in the coming year with strategies that will help bring education to these two major organizations. This will lead to further employment opportunities for people who have a disability.
    • Mark Wafer has worked tirelessly to promote inclusive hiring practices through the Rotary at Work program. He has put in countless hours and helped expand this program to four districts of the province and is in discussions with three more. This has directly resulted in over 130 hires with very little staff input on the job development side. This leaves organizations free to use their resources on finding a good match and in follow up supports. The Network is currently in discussions with Community Living Ontario about taking on future responsibility for Rotary at Work under the Network’s umbrella.

    Media
    Our continued success and the importance of having a voice are integral in getting the attention from the media on issues and perspectives that the Network and our members have. We had a number of opportunities throughout the year to engage the media.
    • The continued recognition of the members of the Champion’s League in newspapers and trade publications and their great work with employing persons with a disability was highlighted in local newspapers.
    • The Mayor’s Challenge and the ongoing media coverage of Mayor Bradley continues to draw attention to the benefits to hiring persons with a disability.
    • The work that went into ensuring that our members and the people we support had a voice during this year’s provincial election.

    Membership
    We believe the Network has been able to work very hard over the last year to provide our members with the many benefits of their membership with us. We are a member-driven organization and our strength is with the membership. Please share all the information that has been provided in this review with other colleagues and encourage others to join Ontario’s only Provincial Network that continues to work on behalf of employment service providers. In addition the Network has been a part of some other initiatives.
    • We have been able to provide a voice at committee levels (Canadian Disability Policy Alliance, ODSP Action Coalition, Canadian Association for Supported Employment, Community Living Ontario, JOIN and others).
    • Executive Director Joe Dale has done a number of speaking engagements in the Niagara Region, Ottawa, North Bay, Belleville, London, Toronto and others.
    • Provide training opportunities to our members. Co-sponsored with Southwest Employment Network ‘Job Developers Roadmap’ in May and then our own AGM and conference ‘Champions for Change: Leadership in Workforce Development’ in November.
    • The Network hosted a forum in April – ‘Creating a Common Voice’, which gave regional networks and provincial organization the opportunity to take the first steps in having a unified voice to represented the needs of people who have a disability when it comes to accessing the workforce.
    • Received recognition by JVS Toronto as one of their community partners at their 9th Annual Strictly Business Awards Luncheon in May.

    What’s Next?
    • To continue to build our organization with more membership.
    • Provide training and networking opportunities for the sector.
    • Build on the great work that has been accomplished through the Mayor’s Challenge and the Champion’s League.
    • To continue with strategies for employer engagement.
    • Look for other funding opportunities and private fund resources that share the same goals and objectives of the Network to ensure sustainability.
    • To build on the work that is being done with government relations and ensure that policy and funding issues do not become the barrier to employment for people who have a disability.
    • To continue to be responsive to the needs of our members. Please share what is important to you and how we can help.

    From the Board of Directors of the Ontario Disability Employment Network we want to extend our thanks for your continued support in our journey to make positive changes for Ontarians who have a disability and are seeking employment.

    We wish you much success in 2012 and look forward to the consolidated effort by this Provincial Network and its members to continue to remove barriers to employment for people who have a disability and our primary objective; to find meaningful and sustainable employment for those we serve.

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    2011 Provincial Election Campaign: Election Tool Kit


    View/Download the entire document in PDF format here

    Note: Portions of this document have been adopted, with permission, from Community Living Ontario’s 2011 Provincial Election Action Kit

    Index
    • Political Action by Charitable Organizations                    .…………………………………. 2
    • Strategies for Members – Campaign 2011                  ………………….……………………. 3
    • Prepare a Media Strategy                                               ………….……………………………. 3
    • Working with the Media                                                 ………….……………………………. 4
      • Overview                                                                ………………………………………. 4
      • Making Your Message Newsworthy                 ………………………………………. 4
      • Writing a News Release                            ………………………………………………. 5
      • Preparing to be Interviewed                    ………………………………………………. 5
      • The Interview                          ………………………………………………………………. 6
      • Tips for Working with Television & Radio Reporters       ………………………. 7
      • Organizing a News Conference                            ……………………………………. 7
      • Other Opportunities for Media Coverage                 ………………………………. 8
    • Recommended Approaches to Candidates                 ………………………………………. 9
      • Letters to Candidates                     ………………………………………………………. 9
      • Phone Calls to Candidates                      ………………………………………………. 9
      • All Candidates Meetings                         ………………………………………………. 9
    • All Candidates Meetings and Candidates at the Door                 ………………………10
    • After the Election                              ………………………………………………………………10
    • Feedback                                   ………………………………………………………………………10
    • Appendices
    1. Key Messages – Background and Details                            ………………………………11
    2. Sample Letter to Candidates                              ………………………………………………15
    3. Face to Face Questions for Candidates                                ………………………………17
    4. Fact Sheet – Disability and Employment                           ………………………………19
    5. Election Campaign Checklist                            ………………………………………………20
    6. Media Interview Request Form                                  ………………………………………22
    7. Election Campaign Feedback Form                          …………….…………………………23


    Political Action by Charitable Organizations – Do’s and Don’ts
    Charities are given special legal status because of their purposes which promote the good of the community. Legally, this status means that the financial and other resources of charities should be used for one or more of their charitable objects. Charities get some tax exemption and can issue tax receipts for donations if they are registered with Revenue Canada.
    To the extent that charitable status is important, there are some things a charitable organization should not do in the context of an election. Taking some actions might well put the charitable status of the organization in jeopardy.

    A charity should not use any of its financial or human resources to contribute to or campaign for any candidate or political party.

    This, of course, does not limit people who are served or supported, members, volunteers or staff from engaging in political activity including running for office on their own time and with their own money, except that Board members and staff should, and in some cases are required by organization’s policies, disclose any such activity to the organization.
    Some other examples of do’s and don’ts are:


    Allowed as a Charity

    Not Allowed as a Charity
    • Taking part in lawful public policy debate at meetings or through the media
    • Visiting a candidate to discuss issues
    • Submitting questions to a candidate about issues
    • Asking questions at public meetings
    • Developing positions on particular issues and forwarding them to candidates or parties
    • Providing plain language information for self advocates and members
    • Encouraging people to vote
    • Monitoring the accessibility of polling places
    • Providing transportation
    • Illegal activity at public demonstrations
    • Picketing for or against a candidate or party
    • Erecting signs for or against a candidate or party on the charity’s property
    • Endorsing a candidate
    • Telling self advocates and members who to vote for (personally or in writing)
    • Promising to reward or punish people for voting any particular way

    Possible consequences of “crossing the line” or even appearing to cross the line:

    • Public criticism and loss of donors
    • Complaints to Election Authorities; the Charities Division of the Attorney General; and/or Revenue Canada leading to investigations and potential loss of charitable status
    • Possible litigation for improper use of charity assets

     

    Strategies for Members – Campaign 2011

    1. Form an Election Strategy Committee

    –  Make a list of accomplishments, identifying key achievements of your organization.  Focus on personal stories of people with disabilities and their families first and the role that your organization played in supporting them. Where possible, provide specific numbers on how many people have been assisted, the positive outcomes that have been achieved and the barriers that people continue to face.
    –  Try to quantify the impact of the issues raised by our key messages in your community by gathering statistics on the effect on individuals in your community.
    –  Identify individuals/families that have compelling stories related to the key messages.  Enlist their support to speak to the media and to political candidates.
    –  Identify individuals who have personal relationships with local members of the media and with local provincial candidates.
    –  Identify a key spokesperson – Choose a person who is empowered to speak on behalf of your organization. Ensure that person has the support from your organization – Executive Director or Board President – and that they are comfortable speaking to the media and to politicians.
    –  Assign responsibility for each part of the strategy and set time lines for accomplishing them.

    (See Appendix 5 for a handy Election Campaign Checklist)

    2. Prepare a Media Strategy

    A/ Prepare a Media Package

    –  Key message handout fact sheets (provided in part 2 of this package)
    –  Local fact sheet of accomplishments, statistics on those served and impact on your community of the issues raised by our key messages.  Include a local contact name and phone number.
    –  Copy of your latest newsletter
    –  Stories of individuals related to key messages (include photographs where possible)

    B/ Send media package to:

    –  Assignment editor of local newspaper (if it’s a weekly, address to the Editor)
    –  Local radio news directors and talk show hosts
    –  Local televisions station assignment editor
    –  Other media identified by your Strategy Committee members

    C/ Follow-up with each outlet to:

    –  Make sure package is received
    –  Ask if any other information is needed
    –  Offer to provide individuals with interesting stories
    –  Ask if photo opportunities could be arranged
    –  Determine interest in coverage (do a pitch!
    –  Ask if other reporters/producers at the same publication/station might be interested in the story

     

    Working with the Media

    Overview
    Although you have less control over the content of a news story, compared to an advertisement or public service announcement, your message has more impact when carried as part of a news story.  The public, in general, views news stories as more objective and more important.
    The newsworthiness of a story is measured in many ways, but reporters look for stories that involve conflict, controversy or that hold some emotional appeal.
    A number of things will influence the media in their decision on whether to do a story on Employment issues that affect people who have a disability, including:

    • How serious is the problem?
    • How many people are affected?
    • When did they last do a story on this, and what is new since then?
    • How many other organizations/individuals have similar stories?
    • What else is happening in the news today/this week?

    Making Your Message Newsworthy

    • Keep the message short and simple.
    • Make sure your message is strong and conveys the seriousness of the problems currently facing Employment Services.
    • Make sure that wherever possible, you back your statements with facts and numbers.
    Writing a News Release

    –  Put your key message in your headline and in the first sentence of the release.   Make it brief and easy to understand.  Often, journalists will decide in the first sentence or paragraph whether this is a story they will cover.
    –  Your release should answer the questions, who, what, where, when and why?
    –  Avoid covering more than one or two issues in your news release.  Choose the topic/issue that most directly affects people with disabilities, rather than your organization.  If possible, your release should fit onto one page.
    –  Make it look neat and easy to read.  Each release you send should have a similar look to it.  Your logo and name should be large.
    –  Include the name and phone number of a contact person at the bottom of your release.  That person should be comfortable answering the media’s questions and be able to speak credibly on behalf of your organization. Make sure that the designated spokesperson is accessible by phone to the media.
    –  It is helpful to send the news release to an individual reporter, rather than to the publication or broadcast outlet newsroom.   Your organization should have an up-to-date media contact list.  To establish a list, call each media outlet and ask for the name of the Assignment Editor (daily newspapers), the Editor (weekly newspapers) or the News Director or Assignment Editor at radio and television stations.  Don’t forget local magazines.
    –  In cases where there are only a few media outlets receiving your release, you may wish to deliver them yourself to give you the opportunity to meet a reporter. Establishing a personal relationship with a reporter can often lead to better coverage.  If you are unable to personally deliver the release, fax it to members of the media.  Faxing implies urgency and ensures that most media outlets receive it at approximately the same time.
    –  When you know the release has been received, follow-up with a phone call to ensure it has been received by the most appropriate person.  Ask if there is any further information they require and use this opportunity to “sell” them on the importance of this story – not to you, but to the public.

    Preparing to be Interviewed

    Whether you have solicited news coverage or are unexpectedly approached by the news media, it always pays to take the time to plan for each media interview.
    –  If a reporter calls you unexpectedly and wants to interview you immediately, explain that you have some business to attend to, but say you will call them back within a specified amount of time.
    –  Ask what the reporter’s deadline is.  Call them back as quickly as you can – always before their deadline.
    –  Make sure you have their name, phone number, publication/station/program.
    –  If the interview is for broadcast, ask how the interview will be used.  It may be used in its entirety as a feature, or be cut into short “clips” or “bites” to be used as part of newscasts.  You can then judge the length of your answers accordingly.
    –  Ask if they will be interviewing anyone else for this particular story and if they know when this story is expected to run.
    –  Tell them when you will call back.
    –  Plan what you want to say – your message, the facts and examples to back your position up and answers to questions you think the reporter may ask.

    (See Appendix 6 – Media Interview Request Form)

    The Interview

    –  Assume the reporter you talk to knows very little about disability and employment issues.  Keep the information you provide very simple, unless the reporter requests more complex information.   Avoid using jargon or short forms they may not understand.
    –  Be message driven, rather than question driven.  While you do not want to avoid answering a reporter’s questions, try to use the questions as an opportunity to convey your main message and information you think is important.   Use ‘bridging’ to answer a question in a manner that allows you to steer the interview in the direction you would like to take it. For example:
    Question: “Doesn’t government already fund employment programs and supports?”
    Answer: That is true, but when you consider that last year taxpayers spent over $3.3 billion dollars on income support for people who have a disability and roughly $35 million on employment supports, how can we expect to see significant improvements of labour market participation for this group. If we want more people to reduce their dependency on the income support system and become contributors to the tax base, we must invest in the services and supports that will achieve this outcome. 49% of people who have a disability are still unemployed – that’s more than 6 times the national average.  Let me give you some examples.”
    Other bridging phrases -“That is not true…here’s what you should know.”
    “That is worth considering and may be true, but have you considered…?”
    “I think there’s a more important point to be made here…”

    *  Do not ask to speak “off the record”.  Assume everything you say, even in offhand remarks, could be tomorrow’s headline!
    *  Try to make the interview as relaxed for you and the reporter as possible.  In all but very exceptional cases, the media is not out to “get” anyone.  They have a job to do – find out what the story is and tell it.  Help them do their job in any way you can.
    *  If you don’t know – say so.  Then tell them you can help them to find the information they require.
    *  Be pleasant.  Never appear angry or defensive.

    Tips for Working with Television and Radio Reporters

    –  Be prepared.  Time passes very quickly when you are being interviewed for a “longer” radio or television segment.  What may seem like a long time – ten or fifteen minutes – never seems like enough time when it’s done.   Make sure your strongest points are made at the beginning and try to repeat them again in the middle and at the end of your interview.  People often remember the first and last things they hear.
    –   Television reporters (and newspaper photographers) look for highly visual stories.  The more action/color/crowds you provide, the more likely you are to get coverage.
    –  Watch out for the dreaded, “Ums.”  Speak clearly and slowly.
    –  On TV, appearance does count.  A pleasant, confident demeanor and a neat, professional look will ensure that your message is carried without distraction.

    Organizing a News Conference

    –  Depending on the importance of your announcement, you may consider holding a news conference.  In many cases, if the announcement is not a major one and if there is nothing visual to offer photographers, a simple news release sent to the media is enough to achieve your goals.
    –  If you hold a news conference, time it to suit the deadline of the media outlet most important to convey your message.   If you want same day television coverage on the evening news, aim for early afternoon.  If a morning newspaper is most important, avoid morning news conferences.  Newspapers dislike running “old” news on the front page, so if a story has already run for a full day on radio and television, you will not likely get as good coverage in the paper the following morning.
    –  If you are holding a news conference, choose a room that will look full according to the number of people you are inviting.  Encourage as many of your employees and clients to attend as is possible.

    Follow-Up
    –  If a reporter has done a good job, take the time to pick up the phone and tell them that you appreciate their work.  Reporters don’t like to think that they are advocates for organizations, but they do like to know that they have told the story in a fair and accurate manner.  If you have received positive response as a result of their story, let them know.
    –  Save newspaper clippings, as well as video and audio tapes of interviews.  They can sometimes be used to forward to other reporters who are considering doing a similar story.

    Other Opportunities for Media Coverage

    Radio Talk Shows – Call your community radio stations to determine if they have interview or phone-in programs.  If they do, ask to speak to the producer.  Tell her/him that you would like to forward some information that may be of interest for a future program.  If he/she is agreeable, arrange to call back after the producer has had time to review it to see if an interview might be arranged.  Offer to provide other guests, such as prominent employers and employees who have a disability.
    Local Television or Cable Shows – Many local television stations have interview programs that focus on news or feature stories.  All community cable stations carry programs that feature stories of local interest in the cities/towns they serve.  Again, call stations for the names of the programs and speak directly to the producers to “make your pitch.”
    Editorial Boards of Newspapers – For major issues, a meeting with a local newspaper’s editorial board can be very productive.  While these discussions vary, they are often more for increasing the newspaper’s awareness of an issue, rather than to produce a story.  Your organization may wish to partner with other organizations with similar goals to discuss the broader issue of the impact of so many people who have a disability being out of the workforce.
    Save these opportunities for very important issues and go prepared to answer some tough and penetrating questions.  Be sure to include employers, self-advocates and even family members.
    Op-Ed Pieces – These articles are called “op-ed” because they run on the page opposite the editorial page.  Often, newspapers are looking for opinion/information pieces that are written by prominent or outspoken members of the communities they serve.  Put together a strong idea and an outline, call the newspaper’s editor or managing editor and “make your pitch.”  The key to a strong op-ed article is to focus on human issues, tell stories with emotional impact and make your issues easy to understand.
    Letters to the Editor – This is a simple way to show your local newspaper the importance of disability issues to their readers.  Whenever coverage is given to issues relating to people who have a disability, encourage members to send response letters to the editor.  In those letters, members can express their own views, their thanks to the newspaper for recognizing the importance of these issues and their gratitude or displeasure at the actions/statements of others.  Letters must be brief (two paragraphs maximum) and must be signed.


    3. Recommended Approach to Candidates

    A. Letters to Candidates
    Send a letter to each candidate that briefly describes the issues related to the key messages and inform the candidates that they will receive a phone call to discuss issues related to employment services for people who have a disability.  Ask the candidates for a commitment to meet with the organization’s representatives prior to the election, and/or, in the coming months if they are elected.Include with the letter:
    –  Key message backgrounder (Appendix 1 – Key Messages: Background and Details)
    –  Local fact sheet of accomplishments, statistics on those served and impact on your community of the issues raised by our key messages.  Include a local contact name and phone number.
    –  Stories of individuals related to key messages (include photographs where possible)
    –  Employment and Disability Fact Sheet (Appendix 4)

    B.     Phone Calls to Candidates
    –  Request for Meeting – If not possible discuss  issues on the telephone
    –  Request for support
    –  If unwilling to meet during the campaign, request a commitment to meet after the election (should they be elected) to discuss action
    If you do not have time to meet with all candidates, give priority to those who are most likely to be elected.

    C.    All Candidates Meetings
    –  Call candidates or local newspaper to determine dates/times of meetings.  Because some meetings deal with specific issues, only those meetings of a general nature or those dealing with social service/disability issues need to be covered.
    –  Assign a delegation, including prominent employers, self-advocates and possibly family members to attend each meeting and, when possible, make a statement and pose a question to candidates regarding key messages. (Appendix 3 – Face-to-face Questions for Candidates)
    –  Provide delegation with the Ontario Disability Employment Network’s  materials about All Candidates Meetings
    –  Consider hosting an all candidates meeting in cooperation with other social service or disability groups in your community.

    All Candidates Meetings and Candidates at the Door

    Opportunity: All candidates meetings and door-to-door canvassing by candidates are an excellent way to get our messages on the agenda. The more often they hear our message, the more likely they are to see our issues as important issues in an election campaign and once the new government is formed.
    Approach: Whether in an all candidates meeting or at the door, it is best to stick to one issue or question, and to keep it relatively simple. The door-to-door canvass, however, can provide the opportunity to have a longer conversation. In a very few minutes, you can make several powerful points with a candidate and give her/him a chance to respond.
    Caution: It is very important that your organization not be seen as supporting one candidate or party over another. As an individual, of course, you can be as political as you want. However, if you associate your actions with that of the organization, caution is very important. When asking questions, it is perfectly all right to say “I believe…” or “Our organization believes….” followed by a statement and question. (See Appendix 3 – Face-to-face Questions for Candidates)

    After the Election

    –  The Ontario Disability Employment Network will contact Party Leaders and prominent politicians to request a meeting to discuss actions to be taken in future by the Network and by government to address key issues.
    –  Members should contact newly elected MPP’s to request a meeting to discuss action to be taken in future.

    4. Feedback

    Don’t forget to keep the Network informed about your election strategy – meetings, media coverage, follow up and responses from political leaders. It will be important to the Network to know who our allies are and where the opposition sits when it comes time to pursue our key messages and issues with the new government. Your experiences will also give other members incentive to join the campaign.

    The Network would also like your feedback on how useful you found this package. Did it help? Did it serve your needs? Do you think a consistent media strategy from the sector is helpful?
    Please take a moment to complete the Feedback Form found in Appendix 7.

    Appendix 1

    Key Messages – Background and Details
    Issue 1: Access to Services and Supports


    Background
    Currently the ODSP Employment Supports program provides subsidies to employment agencies that assist people who have a disability get into the workforce. These agencies are paid in two primary ways. There is a set fee based on the achievement of a job. This amount is $1,000 if the person is assisted to find a job and stay in that job 6 weeks; and a further $6,000 if the person lasts an additional 7 weeks for a total of 13 weeks on the job.

    In many instances this places the service agency at risk. What if the cost of providing service exceeds $7,000; what if the person quits or looses the job prior to the 13th week? The agency could work with an individual for months and not receive any compensation whatsoever.
    Ultimately this lands on the back of the person who has a disability. The agency’s first task, when a new client shows up at their door, is to assess the potential cost of providing service and the risk of the person not lasting in the position. If they assess their cost will exceed $7,000 or the risk too great they are more likely to decline service to that individual. For many people who have a disability this means further discrimination based on the severity of their disability.

    The second payment scheme under ODSP Employment Supports is a monthly fee for each month the person stays on the job. For people who are Income Support recipients this amounts to 50% of the Income Support savings for that individual or $250 per month, whichever is greater. This is intended to provide incentive to the service agency to find ‘better’ jobs – more hours of work per week at higher wages = better compensation for the agency.
    This makes sense in theory however it also contributes to further discrimination for people with more severe disabilities and barriers. Generally speaking, people with more severe disabilities have higher support needs which represent higher costs. At the same time, these individuals often enter the workforce in part-time, entry-level positions. In this scenario, the agency is faced with higher costs and lower revenues. Again, this is not a good business model for the service agency.

    More recently, Service Canada has entered into a Federal/Provincial Labour Market Agreement with Ontario, downloading certain disability support programs and resources. This has landed with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and will soon roll out under the Employment Ontario banner. Employment Ontario has maintained the former Service Canada programs which currently provide funding for some Accessible Resource Centres and a wage subsidy program.

    EO has not yet released its new Disability Service Strategy however our understanding, at this point, is that they will integrate disability services and supports into generic, one-stop EO Centres that will service all people looking for work. Given that the Canada Manpower Centers of the 70’s and 80’s could not provide services to people who have a disability, we are afraid that the new EO model will not do any better.

    The range of disabilities along with the range of interventions and supports that specialized agencies have developed over the past 30 years cannot be replicated under one roof. In the 70’s and 80’s when a person with a disability showed up at a Canada Manpower Centre they were referred to the local sheltered workshop. Even today, where only a few sheltered workshops exist, this represents an old service model that takes resources to operate and continues to entrench people who have a disability into a life of dependency on the Income Support system.

    Our Message
    We believe that all people who have a disability who are motivated to work should have access to the services and supports they need. These services and supports should not be denied or limited based on the severity of the individual’s disability. This must also include access to a range of specialized disability support agencies that have the expertise to provide supports for a particular disability. All people who want to work should be supported to do so. That’s in everyone’s interest.

    Issue 2: Greater Investment in Employment Services and Supports
    Background
    In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the Ontario Government spent over $3.3 billion dollars on ODSP Income Support for this sector of our population. This has been growing at over 5% per year and will continue to escalate at even greater levels into the future. In the same period, the government’s budget for ODSP Employment Supports was $55 million dollars on, of which only $35 million was spent on direct supports to help these people get into the workforce. Clearly the results are a reflection of the investment.

    There are a number of gaps in the current system. Perhaps one of the greatest is in the lack of investment in prevention. It is well understood that it is more difficult to get people off the income support system, once they’re on it, than to provide alternatives to help them avoid the income support system altogether. One area that will have a positive, long-term impact is to invest in youth.

    Kids who have disabilities are frequently excluded from the workforce in the same way as adults who have a disability. Most graduate from high school with very little work experience if any. They don’t have any idea about what type of jobs they are interested in or are suitable to them, or any concept about workplace culture, responsibilities, etc. These kids are headed straight to the ODSP office to sign up for Income Support.

    Currently most Boards of Education are cutting back on work co-op programs and co-op placements for students who have a disability. At the same time there are very few funding strategies that help kids with disabilities get summer jobs and after school jobs. There is a significant gap in programs and supports for employment programs for kids who have a disability; programs that can prepare them for the world of work.

    Our Message
    If we want to: raise people out of poverty; contain Income Support expenditures; and, increase contributions to the tax base, we must do more to help people who have a disability get into the workforce. We must invest in the services and supports that will help people who have a disability gain entry to the workforce.

    We must also develop strategies and programs to help kids get into the workforce sooner, giving them access to the same experiences as their non-disabled peers. Kids who have a disability must have summer and after school jobs so their transition to the working world is more natural.

    Issue 3: Ontario Needs an Employment First Policy Framework

    Background
    Funding for employment supports is extremely fragmented and inefficient. Currently there are five different Ministries and Government Departments that fund services and supports to help people who have a disability get into the workforce. This does not include Worker’s Compensation, Employment Insurance, CPP or private insurers. These funding bodies are disconnected. All have different eligibility criteria, rules and regulations, reporting procedures, different data collection systems that are not integrated or compatible and most critically, different types of services and supports that they will fund. There is no relationship between them from an operating perspective.

    At the same time, some of these Ministries also fund programs that are based on old service delivery models that perpetuate a dependency on social assistance for people who have a disability. Some even fund programs that directly compete with and undermine the objectives of those programs and services funded to help people who have a disability get into the workforce.

    The system is extremely hard to navigate for people who have a disability and service agencies are often not able to access the resources and services that people need in order to be successfully employed.

    Our Message
    When it comes to day options and programs, Ontario needs a Policy Framework that crosses all Provincial Ministries and Departments that fund services and programs for people who have a disability – MCSS DSA, MCSS ODSP-ES, MTCU Employment Ontario, Ministry of Health, Provincial portions of Service Canada, Municipal Employment Programs and Ministry of Education. This Policy Framework places employment as the top funding priority for daytime supports and services for people who have a disability

    • It focuses on integrated work at commensurate wages – “real work for real pay”
    • This is not to be confused with a ‘work for welfare’ approach whereby participation in work is required in order to access income support and people are penalized for non participation.


    Appendix 2

    Sample Letter to Candidates

    Your letterhead or logo

    Date:

    Dear:  (candidate for provincial election)
    On behalf of _____(your organization)__________________, we are writing to request an opportunity to speak with you before the October 6th election. There are matters of great urgency that affect the lives of many people in our community, and we want you to know about them.

    People who have a disability comprise over 16% of the population in Ontario. At almost 2 million people, this group is our largest minority. According to a recent report by the conference Board of Canada this will grow to 20% by the end of this decade. At the same time, people who have a disability are disproportionately excluded from the labour market. Statistics Canada reports that 49% of people who have a disability are unemployed – over 6 times the National average. This also means most of these people live in poverty.

    Access to Services and Supports

    People who have a disability can work and want to work. There are many studies and reports that validate that, with the right services and supports, people who have a disability can make a significant contribution to the workforce. Currently there are many limitations and restrictions that deny access to the necessary services and supports people need to help them get into the workforce. Often, people are refused access to the services and supports they need based on the severity of their disability. At other times service agencies cannot access the right services and supports for job seekers due to restrictive funding models. There is a trend to move to ‘generic’ employment centers in Ontario. Generic service models have not been effective in the past and continue to excluding people who have a disability from the workforce.

    Ontario must ensure that all people who have a disability, who want to work, have access to the services and supports that will help them achieve this goal. They must also have access to the network of service agencies that provide the specialized services and support they need?

    Investing in services and supports that will help people who have a disability get into the workforce

    Last year, the provincial government spent over $3.3 billion dollars on ODSP Income Support for this segment of our population. This has been growing at over 5% per year and will continue to escalate into the future. In the same period, the government spent about $35 million dollars on ODSP Employment Supports to help these people get back into the workforce. If we want to: raise people out of poverty; contain Income Support expenditures; and, increase contributions to the tax base, we must do more to help people who have a disability get into the workforce.

    Ontario must invest more resources into the supports and services that will help people who have a disability become contributing citizens of this province?

    An Employment First Policy Framework

    Funding for employment supports is extremely fragmented and inefficient. Currently there are five different Ministries and Government Departments that fund services and supports to help people who have a disability get into the workforce. This does not include Worker’s Compensation, Employment Insurance, CPP or private insurers. These government funding programs each have their own mandate, rules and regulations, eligibility criteria, reporting, data systems and so on. There is no relationship between them from an operating perspective.

    At the same time, some of these Ministries also fund programs that are based on old service delivery models that perpetuate a dependency on social assistance for people who have a disability. Some even fund programs that directly compete with and undermine the objectives of helping people who have a disability get into the workforce.

    Ontario needs a Policy Framework that coordinates the efforts of all Ministries and Government Departments and that places employment as the top funding priority for day supports and services for people who have a disability. This must be developed in consultation with the disability sector – service providers and people who have a disability.

    If you are elected what will you do to help people who have a disability get into the workforce and become contributing members of Ontario?

    Will you:

    • Improve and ensure access to the specialized services and supports that people need to be successful in the workplace?
    • Increase the investment in employment services and supports for people who have a disability?
    • Help create a policy framework that prioritizes employment when it comes to government spending on disability services (other than housing and residential supports)?

    I look forward to your response as I weigh my voting options for the upcoming election. If you would like more information on any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    (Your Name)


    (Contact information)


    Appendix 3

    Face to Face Questions for Candidates

    We are trying to focus our efforts on a few issues. Here are some straightforward questions you can ask candidates if they come to your door or if you are able to attend an ‘All Candidates Meeting’.

    Opening Statement:

    People who have a disability comprise over 16% of the population in Ontario. At almost 2 million people, this group is our largest minority. According to a recent report by the conference Board of Canada this will grow to 20% by the end of this decade. At the same time, people who have a disability are disproportionately excluded from the labour market. Statistics Canada reported that 49% of people who have a disability are unemployed – over 6 times the National average. This means most of these people live in poverty.

    Access to Services and Supports

    People who have a disability can work and want to work. There are many studies and reports that validate that, with the right services and supports, people who have a disability can make a significant contribution to the workforce. Currently there are many limitations and restrictions that deny access to the necessary services and supports people need to get into the workforce. Often, people are refused access to the services and supports they need based on the severity of their disability. At other times service agencies cannot access the right services and supports for job seekers due to restrictive funding models. There is a trend to move to ‘generic’ employment centers in Ontario. Generic service models have not been effective in the past and contribute to the disenfranchisement people who have a disability thereby excluding them from the workforce.

    Is your party prepared to ensure that all people who have a disability, who want to work, have access to the services and supports that will help them achieve this goal and to preserve the network of service agencies that provide the specialized services and support these individuals need?

    Investing in services and supports that will help people who have a disability get into the workforce

    Last year, the provincial government spent over $3.3 billion dollars on ODSP Income Support for this sector of our population. This has been growing at over 5% per year and will continue to escalate at these levels in the future. In the same period, the government spent about $35 million dollars on ODSP Employment Supports to help these people get back into the workforce. If we want to: raise people out of poverty; contain Income Support expenditures; and, increase contributions to the tax base, we must do more to help people who have a disability get into the workforce.

    Is your party committed to investing more resources into the supports and services that will help people who have a disability become contributing citizens of this province?

     

    Creating an Employment First Policy Framework

    Funding for employment supports is extremely fragmented and inefficient. Currently there are five different Ministries and Government Departments that fund services and supports to help people who have a disability get into the workforce. This does not include Worker’s Compensation, Employment Insurance, CPP or private insurers. These government funding programs each have their own mandate, rules and regulations, eligibility criteria, reporting, data systems and so on. There is no relationship between them from an operating perspective.

    At the same time, some of these Ministries also fund programs that are based on old service delivery models that perpetuate a dependency on social assistance for people who have a disability. Some even fund programs that directly compete with and undermine the objectives of those programs and services funded to help people who have a disability get into the workforce.

    Ontario needs a Policy Framework that coordinates the efforts of all Ministries and Government Departments and that places employment as the top funding priority for day supports and services for people who have a disability.

    Will your party commit to working with the disability sector – service providers and people who have a disability to create an Employment First policy framework for Ontario?

    Appendix 4

    Fact Sheet – Disability and Employment

    • 16.5% of Canadians live with a disability. In Ontario, this represents over 1.9 million people. This is predicted to grow to 20% by the end of this decade. This represents the largest minority in the province.
    • While the numbers vary according to the source, a significant number of people who have a disability are currently out of the workforce.
    • StatsCan reported that 49% of people who have a disability are unemployed.
    • Human Resources and Skills Development Canada cite the unemployment rate for people who have a disability at 10.4% vs. the National average of 6.8%.
    • In 2010/11, the Province spent $3.3 billion on Income Support for people who have a disability. This has been growing at over 5% per year.
    • In the same period, the Ministry of Community and Social Services budget for ODSP Employment Supports was $55 million, of which about $35 million was spent on direct supports for people who have a disability who were attempting to access the labour market.
    • People who have a disability are a viable source of labour. Studies and reports show:

    *  90% of people who have a disability scored as average or above in terms of performance on the job – DuPont
    *  86% have better than average attendance – DuPont
    *  97% rate as average to above average in terms of safety on the job – DuPont
    *  46% of people who have a disability work harder than other workers – Harris
    *   39% of people who have a disability are more reliable than other workers – Harris
    *  People who have a disability are 5 times more likely to stay on the job – Pizza Hut
    *  Informal reports from employers also demonstrate people who have a disability to be more loyal and to have a positive affect on employee morale and customer appreciation

    • The Conference Board of Canada is predicting a one million worker shortfall in Canada

    • In January, 2011, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses cited that in a survey of members, 34% reported shortage of skilled and semi skilled workers to be their number one business constraint and a further 13% reported shortage of unskilled labour as their primary business constraint.

    Appendix 5

    Campaign Checklist

    Task Person(s) Responsible Timeline

    Preparation

    *  Form an Election Strategy Committee
    *  Prepare a fact sheet that contains bullet points outlining the severity of the impact of the issues raised by our key messages in your community
    *  Identify individuals who have personal relationships with members of the media and with provincial politicians
    *  Identify a key spokesperson, empowered to speak on behalf of your organization
    *  Determine dates of all-candidate meetings and assign people to attend

    Media Strategy

    Prepare media package that includes:

    *  Key message handout fact sheets (provided in part 2 of this kit)
    *  Local fact sheet of accomplishments
    *  Statistics on challenges/problems created by underfunding in your community.
    *  Local news release or note that includes name and phone number of local contact
    *  Information sheet on the individuals who have agreed to tell their stories (include photographs where possible

    *   Follow-up calls to media including request to meet with local editorial board to discuss issues

    Political Strategy

    *  Letters & package of info to each candidate(see draft)
    *  Follow-up phone calls to candidates – where appropriate, request for meeting
    *  Determine dates of ‘All Candidates Meetings’
    *  Assign Delegation to attend All Candidates Meetings
    *  Consider hosting an All Candidates Meeting in cooperation with others

    Follow Up

    Report your election campaign activities to the Ontario Disability Employment Network Government Relations Committee at gparker@waypointcentre.ca along with any response from the media or candidates

    Post-Election

    Contact each newly elected MPP to request a meeting to discuss specific action to be taken in future

    Follow Up

    Let us know about any follow up meetings and responses. Contact our  Government Relations Committee at gparker@waypointcentre.ca

     

    Appendix 6

    Media Interview Request Form

    Date:   ____________________

    Time:  ____________________

    Name of reporter: ___________________________ Contact #

    Publication/Station:           __________________________________

    How will this be used? ______________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    Others being interviewed: __________________________________

    Reporter’s deadline: ______________________________________ (call back as soon as possible)

    When is this story expected to run? _________________ (do not ask for a copy of the story)

    The main message I want to convey:

    Facts/Statistics to support my main message:

    Examples (such as stories about people affected):

    Other messages (if time allows):

    How Did It Go/ Follow-up?

    Appendix 7

    Election Kit Feedback Form

    After using the election kit, please take a few minutes to complete this form and return it to Ontario Disability Employment Network.  Your comments will help us improve our election package for future campaigns.

    I found the following pieces of the election kit helpful: _________________________

    I did not find the following pieces of the election kit particularly helpful (suggest improvements if any):

    I would add the following elements to the kit: ______________________________

    I would remove the following elements from the kit: ________________________________

    General comments: ___________________________________________________________

     

    Please return completed form to: gparker@waypointcentre.ca

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    World Report on Disability (World Health Organization)


    Cover Page for The World Report on Disability by The World Health Organization Featuring an introduction by Professor Stephen W. Hawking, this 349 page document is the first-ever World Report on Disability.  Information includes global estimates and looks at the status of people who have a disability world-wide.  This document explores the many barriers experienced by people who have a disability, and the negative effects resulting from such barriers.

    Click here to view a PDF of the document

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    Achieving Social and Economic Inclusion, from segregation to ‘employment first’ (CACL)


    Links to the study entitled "Achieving social and economic inclusion"CACL has  completed a research study on employment supports for people with intellectual disabilities. The study looks at effective policies and practices for transitioning from sheltered and enclave based employment services for people with intellectual disabilities to supports that enable inclusion in the labour market. The research study follows on a renewed international interest in what have been dubbed “employment first” or “employment focused” approaches marking the first major Canadian contribution to this dialogue.

    Click here to view the study

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    Improving Employment Outcomes


    Improving Employment Outcomes Cover PageA summary of the key points addressed in the May 2011 session “Revitalizing Innovation in our Field”, facilitated by the Ontario Disability Employment Network’s Executive Director, Joe Dale.  Contains opinions shared by job devleopers on the job market, and on how to increase job opprtunites/job retention.  View It Here

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    Accessibility For Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance Update


    Access in PDF file by clicking here

    ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

    If you don’t now receive our updates directly from us, sign up for AODA Alliance e-mail updates by writing to our new email address: aodafeedback@gmail.com

    Learn more at: www.aodaalliance.org

    UNITED FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO

    SARNIA CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES OF ONTARIO’S CALL FOR THE PROPOSED PROVINCIAL ACCESSIBILITY REGULATION TO BE WEAKENED – GET YOUR MUNICIPALITY TO DO THE SAME!

    May 17, 2011

    SUMMARY

    We are delighted that on the recommendation of Sarnia’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, the City of Sarnia and its mayor have both publicly distanced themselves from the call by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to weaken the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation which the McGuinty Government is now finalizing. We urge other Ontario municipalities to do the same!

    Back on April 5, 2011 the AODA Alliance made public its serious concerns about the fact that AMO and the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) were using public funds to advocate to weaken the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation that the McGuinty Government is finalizing. That regulation is intended to address barriers that persons with disabilities face in getting access to employment, transportation, and information and communication.

    If anything, the McGuinty Government’s proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation needs to be made stronger, not weaker. On April 5, 2011, we urged municipal accessibility advisory committees to call on their city councils and mayors to distance themselves from AMO’s and OPTA’s troubling and counterproductive opposition. For more on this click here: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/04052011.asp

    We here report on three great steps forward on this issue, all coming from Sarnia.

    It is great that Sarnia’s accessibility advisory committee heeded our call. It passed a resolution urging Sarnia to distance itself from AMO on this issue. That resolution is set out below, in the body of the supportive report to Sarnia City Council from Sarnia staff.

    We are also delighted that on May 9, 2011, Sarnia City Council passed that resolution. We set out that resolution below, as shared with us by Sarnia City staff.

    This helps show that AMO’s view is not universally shared by all Ontario municipalities. When persons with disabilities fought for enactment of the AODA from 1994 to 2005, many municipal councils passed wonderful resolutions, that called for a strong Disabilities Act to be passed by Queen’s Park. In contrast, this year, AMO and OPTA take a troubling approach to achieving accessibility for persons with disabilities giving lip service to the goal of accessibility, followed by a call for the proposed new accessibility regulation to be delayed and weakened.

    Finishing off this triple-header, Sarnia’s mayor, Michael Bradley is quoted extensively in a powerful news release, evidently issued by some community groups,  on May 6, 2011. the mayor  also strongly distances himself from AMO and OPTA. He called on other municipalities in Ontario to do the same, explicitly urging them to “follow the recommendations of the AODA Alliance Group in Ontario.”

    We set out the related, compelling news release below which was provided to us. Among other things, it states (referring to AMO’s call for the proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation to be weakened):

    “Bradley likened this move by the AMO and OPT A to slow changes related to the rights of persons’ who have a disability to similar moves that were made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. “Ontario’s population is made up of close to 20% of persons who have a disability and combined with family and friends it amounts to over 50% of the population,” he said. “Do municipalities really want to disenfranchise that amount of their citizenry?” He went on to quote the late great Martin Luther King and the “fierce urgency of now”.”

    We urge each municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, each municipal council and each mayor in Ontario  to follow Sarnia’s lead. For action tips, click here:  http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/04052011.asp

    Let us know what results you achieve. Contact us at: aodafeedback@gmail.com

    The Sarnia City Council’s resolution also calls for provincial funding to help municipalities comply with accessibility standards. For our part, we emphasize that even without new provincial funding, it is the responsibilities of all organizations in the public and private sectors to remove and prevent barriers to accessibility, whether the Ontario Government finances that activity or not.

    *****

    REPORT TO SARNIA CITY COUNCIL

    THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF SARNIA

    People Serving People

    CORPORATE SERVICES

    OPEN SESSION REPORT

    To:                   Mayor Bradley and Members of Sarnia City Council

    From:               Lloyd Fennell, City Manager

    Date:               April 20th, 2011

    Subject:           AODA Integrated Standards

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requests that Sarnia City Council pass the following resolutions:

    1.         That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario by 2025 be supported; and

    2.         That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support.

    BACKGROUND

    The AODA Alliance has been asking municipal accessibility advisory committees to distance themselves from AMO’s submission on the Integrated Accessibility Standard to the province on behalf of municipal governments.

    A copy of the AODA Alliance Communication as well as the AMO submission of March 16, 2011, and the AMO News Release of April 14, 2011 have been attached for Council’s Information.

    COMMENTS

    The following is a brief summary of the AODA Alliance concerns regarding AMO’s position:

    •           AMO is asking to delay timelines for Integrated Accessibility Regulations (IAR);

    •           AMO is asking for the legislation to be delayed until reviewed by an independent regulatory impact assessment to do a cost benefits analysis, however most provisions of the 1AR are already obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and are not new;

    •           AMO already participated and provided input into the standards committees;

    •           Human Rights Commission, AODA Alliance, many disability groups and AAC’s feel IAR is already not strong enough and too slow;

    •           The AODA Alliance is concerned that AMO is using public funds to fight for delays in advancing accessibility, and:

    •           Without the above resolution, there may be a perception that AMO is representing all municipalities when working to slow this legislation.

    Unlike the position of AMO, as set out in their March 16th submission, the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee supports the disability communities in their concern that the provincial government should move forward with timelines as in the draft legislation. The Committee further agrees with the disability communities that many of the provisions of the draft Integrated Legislation are already obligations under existing human rights legislation and should not be further delayed past the timelines already put forward in the draft legislation.

    CONSULTATION

    This report is being brought forward at the request of the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee after consultation with the AODA Alliance.

    FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

    There are no financial consequences for the preparation of this report.

    Reviewed by: Lloyd Fennell, City Manager

    Approved by: Brian Knott, Acting City Manager

    This report was prepared by Susan Weatherston, Accessibility Coordinator

    Attachments:   AODA Alliance Communication

    AMO Submission of March 16, 2011

    AMO News Release of April 14, 2011

    Report to Council dated September 28, 2010

    *****

    RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE SARNIA CITY COUNCIL ON MAY 9, 2011

    The following motion regarding AODA Integrated Standards was adopted by Sarnia City Council at its meeting held on May 9, 2011:

    That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario by 2025 be supported; and

    That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support; and

    That the Government of Ontario commit to the provision of financial resources to enable municipalities to meet standards.

    *****

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Mayor Mike Bradley Speaks out Against Associations

    Sarnia, Ontario, May 6th, 2010 – Mayor Mike Bradley spoke out against the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) as well as the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPT A).

    Both organizations have each urged the McGuinty Government to delay enactment of the Integrated Accessibility Regulation (IAR) made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (commonly known as the AODA) and to weaken its protections for persons with disabilities. Mayor Bradley spoke out against the groups after receiving recommendations from top-ranking City staff based upon recommendations made by the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee.

    Bradley likened this move by the AMO and OPT A to slow changes related to the rights of persons’ who have a disability to similar moves that were made in some of the southern United States during the American Civil Rights movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. “Ontario’s population is made up of close to 20% of persons who have a disability and combined with family and friends it amounts to over 50% of the population,” he said. “Do municipalities really want to disenfranchise that amount of their citizenry?” He went on to quote the late great Martin Luther King and the “fierce urgency of now”. Mayor Bradley also announced his plans to request Sarnia City Council this Monday evening to follow the recommendations made by The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requesting that Sarnia City Council pass the following resolutions:

    1. That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario

    by 2025 be supported; and

    2. That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and

    the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and support.

    Hoping that this will lead other municipalities to do the right thing and follow the recommendations of the AODA Alliance Group in Ontario.

    Mayor Mike Bradley is well known for his on-going Mayor’s Challenge to the other Mayor’s in Ontario — “to do the right thing and take up the challenge of hiring persons’ who have a disability.”

    Mark Wafer, who owns 7 Tim Horton’s stores in Toronto, area also spoke out in support of Mayor Bradley’s comments. Wafer is a business owner who is out in front of AODA as the first fast food franchise in Ontario to be certified under AODA. Wafer stated, “This argument that business can’t afford to comply with the AODA is simply ridiculous. It’s stupid not to comply. As a business owner complying with all of the requirements of the AODA has allowed me to see a whole new demographic of customers and I have the increased profits to prove it.”

    Contact:                      Mayor Mike Bradley

    519-332-0560

    Mike Bradley mayor@sarnia.ca

    Contact:                      Mark Wafer, mwafer@xplornet.com

    Backgrounder:                        AODA Report

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    AODA Report


    View the entire report here.

    TO: Mayor Bradley and Members of Sarnia City Council

    FROM: Lloyd Fennell, City Manager

    DATE: April 20th, 2011

    SUBJECT: AODA Integrated Standards

    RECOMMENDATIONS
    The Sarnia Accessibility Advisory Committee requests that Sarnia City Council pass the
    following resolutions:
    1. That the draft Integrated Accessibility Regulation and its vision of an Accessible Ontario
    by 2025 be supported; and
    2. That a copy of this report and resolution be forwarded to Lambton County Council and
    the Lambton County Accessibility Advisory Committee for their consideration and
    support.

    BACKGROUND
    The AODA Alliance has been asking municipal accessibility advisory committees to distance
    themselves from AMO’s submission on the Integrated Accessibility Standard to the province on
    behalf of municipal governments.
    A copy of the AODA Alliance Communication as well as the AMO submission of March 16,
    2011, and the AMO News Release of April 14, 2011 have been attached for Council’s
    Information.

    COMMENTS
    The following is a brief summary of the AODA Alliance concerns regarding AMO’s position:
    • AMO is asking to delay timelines for Integrated Accessibility Regulations (IAR);
    • AMO is asking for the legislation to be delayed until reviewed by an independent
    regulatory impact assessment to do a cost benefits analysis, however most provisions of
    the IAR are already obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and are not new;
    • AMO already participated and provided input into the standards committees;
    • Human Rights Commission, AODA Alliance, many disability groups and AAC’s feel
    IAR is already not strong enough and too slow;
    • The AODA Alliance is concerned that AMO is using public funds to fight for delays in
    advancing accessibility, and;
    • Without the above resolution, there may be a perception that AMO is representing all
    municipalities when working to slow this legislation.
    Unlike the position of AMO, as set out in their March 16th submission, the Sarnia Accessibility
    Advisory Committee supports the disability communities in their concern that the provincial
    government should move forward with timelines as in the draft legislation. The Committee
    further agrees with the disability communities that many of the provisions of the draft Integrated
    Legislation are already obligations under existing human rights legislation and should not be
    further delayed past the timelines already put forward in the draft legislation.

    CONSULTATION
    This report is being brought forward at the request of the Sarnia Accessibility Advisory
    Committee after consultation with the AODA Alliance.

    FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
    There are no financial consequences for the preparation of this report.

    View the entire report here.

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    Ontario Disability Employment Network: 2010 – The Year in Review


    PLEASE NOTE: PDF DOWNLOAD OF THIS REPORT COMING SOON

    2010 has been an exciting year for the Ontario Disability Employment Network and as we look back and take stock of our efforts, we are pleased with our accomplishments and the strides the Network has made in such a short time since its launch in 2009. We hope you are also pleased with the efforts of your Network and satisfied that your membership dues represent good value.

    The following few pages represent the highlights of our activities over the past year. Considering this has all been accomplished due to the volunteer efforts of our Board, a one-day per week Executive Director and the help of our members, we hope you will agree the list is substantial.

    On that note we would like to say thank you to all our sponsors and patrons who have made this possible.  To date the Network’s revenue sources have come from membership dues, revenue from events and training sessions and a few generous organizations that have made both financial and in-kind contributions to help sustain the Network and its work.

    We want to ensure we remain responsive to those issues that matter most to you as you face the daily challenges of finding and maintaining jobs for people who have a disability and we encourage you to provide feedback to the Network at every opportunity. It is with your direction, support and encouragement that the Network will continue to be successful.

    Joe Dale
    Executive Director

    Debbi Soucie
    Co-Chair

    Bob Vansickle
    Co-Chair

    Government Relations

    Key to ensuring our member organizations are able to deliver quality employment services in a sustainable manner is that we continue our work with government. Over the past year the Network has met and corresponded with ODSP-ES, the MCSS Modernization Unit, Employment Ontario and Service Canada.

    In the 4th quarter of the year the Board established a formal Government Relations Committee with a Board chair along with 2 task forces to address issues related to the key funding programs ODSP and Employment Ontario.

    ODSP-ES

    • Meetings with Norm Helfand and Marian Shull regarding transition of ESS positions to generic Case Workers, redefining competitive employment, ODSP payments to agencies, retention payments and baseline model, and volunteering in the private sector

    MCSS Modernization Initiative

    • Meeting and correspondence with Peggy Black of the Modernization Unit with respect to the roll out of the modernization initiative, regulatory requirements related to the administration of ODSP funded services and training for Case Workers.

    MTCU/Employment Ontario

    • Employment Ontario Task Force putting together a provincial coalition to develop strategies to ensure that specialized services are available for people who have a disability in the new EO model.
    • Created a model for Employment Ontario that shows how specialized services can be maintained while achieving Employment Ontario’s primary goals
    • Several meetings and correspondence with MTCU staff including ADM Laurie LeBlanc

    Service Canada

    • Initial meetings with Davin Kamino of Service Canada were held in December 2010 to discuss the Opportunities Fund, Case Management and Assessment services.

    Provincial Ministry of Finance

    • The Network has requested standing on the panel for the pre-budget consultations to be held this March.  No response at the time of this report.

    Employer Engagement and Marketing Initiatives

    Engaging employers who are willing to help us achieve our goals is vital to improving the participation rates of people who have a disability in the workforce. The Ontario Disability Employment Network has made several advancements in this area.

    Mayor’s Challenge

    • Thanks in large part to Sarnia Mayor, Mike Bradley, employment service providers have come to realize that their municipal governments are large, prospective employers and should be challenged to set an example by ‘Doing the Right Thing’ and including disability in their diversity hiring processes.
    • Organizations across the province have been systematically approaching their mayors seeking the same kind of leadership.
    • The Network, together with Mayor Bradley has provided support and council to both organizations and local mayors about how to put this in action.
    • A Mayor’s Challenge toolkit has been developed and is available on-line for Network members.
    • Currently 10 Mayors and their municipalities have come on board with a commitment to hire people who have a disability in their municipal workforce as a direct result of the Mayor’s Challenge.

    Champion’s League

    • The first annual Champion’s League awards were launched at the Network’s first annual conference and AGM in October.
    • Three prominent Champions were recognized with awards – Mike Bradley, Mayor of Sarnia; Joe Hoffer, Cohen Highley LLP; and, Mark Wafer, Megleen Inc. aka Tim Hortons
    • While recognition is important the real story here is in the formation of the Champion’s League itself. The awards recognize employers who: ‘lead by example’ as demonstrated through their hiring practices; have through their career and business relationships promoted the hiring of people who have a disability to others; and, (most importantly) have made a commitment to continue to help us promote the hiring of people who have a disability in the years to come.

    The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

    • These employer engagement strategies have not gone unnoticed and Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor has become an advocate, supporter and promoter of both the Mayor’s Challenge and the Champion’s League.
    • Several meetings have taken place with the Lieutenant Governor to look at how we can strategically utilize these employer engagement initiatives to advance our employment agenda and continue to build the League.

    Media

    Some of the Network’s success can be measured by the media that is attracted to the issues and perspectives of the Network and its members. While the Network has not had a specific media strategy, there has been significant media response to our efforts and initiatives.

    • Response to the London Free press article re comment made by advice columnist that was also posted in the Toronto and Winnipeg Sun and Canoe.com.
    • A series of articles were written by the Executive Director and published. This series, Disability in the workplace has been picked up and published in a variety of Newsletters and web sites around the province
    • Radio Interview with a local Windsor radio station about the Network
    • Article in The Intelligencer
    • Article in Northumberland News
    • Articles regarding the Mayor’s Challenge in the North Bay Nugget and many other community newspapers

    The Network also established a Communications Committee this past year. While much of the committee’s initial efforts has been directed at creating our web site, this committee will also tackle the broader communications issues in the future.

    Membership

    While we believe all of the work presented thus far benefits our members, there have been some additional initiatives that are directed specifically at members.

    www.odenetwork.com

    • Built and launched a brand new, interactive web site choc full of information, resources and a way to connect with your colleagues. If you haven’t visited the website recently we encourage you to do so.
    • Special thanks to the volunteer contributions of Aerin and Jimmy Guy of Space Race who have made this possible.

    Training Events and Resources

    • Over the past year we have had two key training events – Networking in the North and our first annual conference, Champions for Change.
    • Evaluations for both events were very positive and the message is we need to do more training and to locate events in various parts of the province.
    • At the time of writing, the Network is working on a grant proposal to develop some new marketing materials that will be available to members in the new-year.

    New Members

    • The Ontario Disability Employment Network is a member-driven organization. It is grass routs and built on the strengths of its members. We can’t do any of this without you.
    • This year the Network has grown to 64 paid members.
    • Be sure to share this information with your colleagues and encourage others to join Ontario’s only Provincial Network that works on behalf of employment service providers with the goal of eliminating barriers to employment faced by people who have a disability.

    Looking Ahead

    • Employment networking day – How do we create a provincial voice to effect change?
    • Ensuring growth and sustainability for the network through foundations and other private funding sources that share the objectives and goals of the Network
    • Continue with our Government Relations work
    • Building on our employer engagement strategies including the Champion’s League and Mayor’s Challenge
    • Provide training and networking opportunities for the sector
    • Continue to build our on-line community and networking opportunities
    • Continue to build our membership base
    • Ensure we remain responsive to the needs of the members. Let us know what we can do for you!

    In Closing

    These are challenging and exciting times for employment service providers. It has been a long time since we have had a consolidated and effective Provincial Network that deals specifically with the issues related to employment for people who have a disability.

    The landscape of government policy and funding is changing rapidly and while we need to be prepared for these changes and ensure we are able to respond to them, we can’t lose sight of our primary objective. That is to find meaningful and sustainable employment for those we serve.

    From the Board of Directors of the Ontario Disability Employment Network we wish you every success in the coming year.

    Posted on:

    Assessment of Debt Load and Financial Barriers Affecting Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education – Ontario Report for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario


    Assessment of Debt Load and Financial Barriers Affecting Students with Disabilities in Canadian Postsecondary Education – Ontario Report

    Prepared by Tony Chambers, Mahadeo Sukhai and Melissa Bolton for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (Read Study Here)
     Click here to access original source.

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