Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs
Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs

OASIS Bi-Monthly Newsletter – February 2016

OASIS Logo pngOASIS Newsletter – February 2016

o

The OASIS newsletter is a bi-monthly newsletter keeping you up-to-date on our member agencies and the Ontarians they serve.

This month’s edition includes:

  • An update from OASIS’ President on the Patrons Council
  • An update on the Ontario Government’s shift towards greater community inclusion
  • Community spotlight on:

Community Living Campbell/Brighton’s partnership to develop a Community Hub
Community Living South Muskoka’s accessible transportation partnership
Innovative Housing & Support partnership in Ottawa
OASIS’s submission to the Ontario Ministry of Labour Steering Committee on “Closing the Gender Wage Gap”

OASIS Board Welcomes Ms. Christine Elliott as Founding Member of Patrons Council

The OASIS Board of Directors has been blessed by an avalanche of dedicated, committed, hardworking volunteers over the years that have made their contribution and then in the fullness of time, moved on. We have had many champions in the community who have supported our efforts over the years that have allowed us to grow and prosper, to achieve the recognition that our valued member agencies so richly deserve. The OASIS Board recognizes that for some, having made their mark, they are content to move on to other challenges. For others however, we believe that there should be made available a continuing opportunity to participate in the vital life of the work of OASIS and to continue to bring their sage advice, experience and wisdom to the table.

Taking these two factors into consideration, the OASIS Board of Directors has taken the first step by establishing a Patrons Council whose founding member I am delighted to announce, is Ms. Christine Elliott, our provinces first Patient Ombudsman. Christine will be attending our 2016 OASIS Conference /AGM and will be sharing her thoughts on the present status of the remaining work of the Select Committee on Disability and her first impressions in her new appointment.

Step two remains to be created and terms of reference defined but will be unfolding as we move forward so that our volunteers who wish to remain connected to OASIS after their terms of office are completed, will have the opportunity to do so. We will keep you posted on our progress.

David Barber
President, OASIS

Ontario Government Consulting With Partners on Shift Towards Greater Community Inclusion  

mjThe Ontario government will be consulting with OASIS members and other stakeholders in the developmental services sector as it continues to support agencies shifting away from sheltered workshops.

Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek recently directed agencies not to fill any vacancies in sheltered workshops from now on. “We will promote opportunities for meaningful community participation and competitive employment,” said Jaczek. “The shift away from sheltered workshops is not only about employment – it is ultimately about greater community inclusion. Jobs are only one of the options an individual can choose to pursue.”

She stressed that this is not about taking away supports, and indicated no program will be phased out without appropriate alternatives in place. Instead, agencies will work closely with individuals and families to offer inclusive supports that best meet their needs and preferences.

The Minister noted that agencies across Ontario have already begun moving away from the sheltered workshop model. This is consistent with the direction that other jurisdictions across North America, and elsewhere, have successfully adopted.

The government of Ontario has already been supporting this shift through the Employment and Modernization Fund, which is part of Ontario’s three-year $810 million investment strategy for developmental services that is funding 23 projects. A number of these projects involve shifting away from sheltered workshops, with some very positive results already emerging

Ministry officials will continue to engage with sector agencies, partner ministries and other key stakeholders to carefully plan this transition. “I recognize that it is vital for the shift to be gradual and person-centred so that there is a smooth transition for people affected by this change,” said Jaczek.

SUSTAINABLE SERVICES MATTER

Community Living Campbellford/Brighton and Campbellford Memorial Hospital Partner to Develop a Community Hub Residential Model

In August, 2015, Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services announced that Community Living Campbellford/Brighton will receive close to $400,000 over the next two years. The funding will create a centralized hub of supports for aging individuals with intellectual disabilities that will enable them to continue living independently in rural areas. The program is in collaboration with Campbellford Memorial Hospital.
From the central ‘hub’, Direct Support Professionals will provide predetermined booked hours of support, as well as spontaneous support on a 24 hour basis, for people in housing locations within a 20 kilometre radius of the ‘hub.’ Available supports include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial management
  • Home management
  • Daily living assistance
  • Community connection development
  • Community service coordination

Our partnership with the hospital will increase its capacity to meet the critical needs of people with intellectual disabilities who are aging. Designed to allow direct support by professionals around the clock, the community hub housing model will prevent premature admission to long-term care, reduce avoidable emergency room visits and improve the care and quality of life of people living on their own. The Community Hub Residential model being developed will allow for six individuals to move into more of an independent setting at separate locations within a 20-kilometre radius.”
Nancy Brown, Executive Director of Community Living Campbellford/Brighton

Campbellford Memorial Hospital is an accredited and award-winning leader in rural health care for creating a healthy community through service excellence, effective partnerships and the development of innovative hospital services. In this project, the partnership with our Geriatric Assessment and Intervention Network program, Campbellford and District Community Mental Health Centre, and Trent Hills Palliative Care Collaboration Committee will allow for a fluid sharing of information so that health and developmental service professionals are better able to tap into each other’s expertise,
                         –Brad Hilker, President and CEO, Campbellford Memorial Hospital.  

COLLABORATION MATTERS

Accessible Transportation – Agency Collaboration with Private Business

The goal of inclusion and ensuring that people can participate fully in their community can often be stalled at the very first step: transportation. Accessible transportation is especially an issue in smaller communities where there is no public transportation. Those that are fortunate enough to have an agency vehicle can only be in one place at one time, and require valuable staff resources to drive.

In 2013, Community Living South Muskoka (CLSM) found a solution to this problem by looking outside the public sector to a system that our community has relied on for years – the Bracebridge Taxi transportation system. It built off of the existing taxi system concept to create an improved model that enables people have access to door to door, on demand, accessible transit.

To create an accessible transit option, CLSM collaborated with Bracebirdge Taxi to purchase a MV-1 Wheelchair Van, the world’s first factory-built accessible vehicle. We then worked with the town of Bracebridge to obtain the first taxi license for an accessible vehicle.

t has been wonderful seeing this vision become a reality, and to see all members of our community with mobility challenges able to access the system. Just over one year after we launched, Bracebridge Taxi now has a fleet of MV-1 vehicles to meet all the demand for service for not only our agency, but the entire community.

mmMike’s Story
Mike had a dream to move out of his family home and be more independent. After many years, he was finally able to make his dream a reality when he started living in his own home supported by CLSM.

After the move, it was important for Mike to keep spending time with his family and to be able to access local restaurants.  As his mobility started to decrease, this became a greater challenge.

“I like taking the taxi so I can meet my mom and dad at the restaurant every two weeks. I go all by myself and call the taxi by myself.” said Mike. When asked what was best about the taxis, Mike replied “I go up the ramp and get to sit at the front. I can see out the window. I like all the drivers.”

Mike’s father agrees that the new service is a win for Bracebridge, stating that “The accessible taxi is wonderful for Mike to be independent and be able to get out with us. Without it, we would not be able to spend as much time together. It has also enabled us to purchase a  smaller car and not be restricted to only purchasing an accessible van. CLSM’s partnership with Bracebridge Taxi is a win/win situation for everyone involved.”

AGENCIES MATTER

Innovative Housing & Support Partnership has High Impact Results Meeting Community Needs

How Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills (OCL) and OCISO Non-Profit Housing Corporation (OCISO NPH) developed a unique and groundbreaking partnership to meet community needs.

For over 30 years, OCL has been a leader in providing services to adults with developmental disabilities in the Ottawa area. During the last several years, OCL’s Supported Independent Living (SIL) program has expanded to include Enhanced-Supported Independent Living (E-SIL). This newer program provides extra hours of support to individuals who live independently in the community, which includes supporting a number of Transitioned Aged Youth (TAYs – individuals with developmental disabilities moving from children’s services into adult services). As the program doubled in size, the need to increase their office space was quickly realized by program supervisor, Mark Snedden (now a Program Director with OCL). Mark reached out to the City of Ottawa housing officials, who put him in contact with OCISO NPH.

OCISO NPH is an organization that has been providing safe affordable housing in the Ottawa area for individuals and families in multicultural settings since the early 1990s. In 2013, after winning a Request for Proposal for the land and capital funds to build Phase III, (the land was provided by Canada Lands while the building grant was provided by City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario), the City of Ottawa requested the development team to fulfill one last requirement – to provide some tenants in the new building with residential supports.

Given OCISO NPH is a housing provider, they would need a partner who specialized in residential supports and had access to this funding. They approached a few supportive housing organizations, but no one had access to new funding to expand their portfolios or the funding to hire new employees. The only thing they could do was construct an office space in the new building and hope the perfect partner would come along.

In July 2014, Mark met with Marie-Josée Houle, who at the time, was a Project Manager and Development Consultant for OCISO NPH (she is now OCISO NPH’s Executive Director) to discuss this exciting new housing project on Den Haag Drive. During this first meeting, they discussed the needs of their respective organizations and soon realized the potential for a ground-breaking and important partnership for both organizations.

This opportunity was exciting from day one. They were building a brand new 74 unit building with a variety of one, two, and three bedroom apartments. The building offered some accessible units and two different housing subsidy programs. Marie-Josée was willing to work with OCL on the design and construction of a new office space in addition to providing units for individuals OCL supports.”
Mark Snedden, Program Director with OCL

What followed were months of research, writing, and negotiations. After much work, the final agreement was signed in January 2015 by Jocelyne Paul, OCL Executive Director and Ben Piper, OCISO NPH Board President.

Today, OCL supports ten individuals living in Den Haag Drive apartments in addition to another eight individuals who transitioned from OCL group homes to a new group support model within the building. These eight individuals now live with a roommate in their own apartments, which are outfitted with modern technology to assist in maintaining their new living arrangements. Staffing is still based on a 24 hour support model as had previously existed.

Our partnership with OCL just adds another beautiful flavor to the diversity of people that we do house. People living at OCISO Den Haag are exposed to a huge diversity of people with various differences, similarities, challenges and triumphs. It nurtures empathy for others and acceptance of ourselves. It breaks down stereotypes and allows the humanness in ourselves to grow.”
        Marie-Josée Houle, Executive Director, OCISO Non-Profit Housing Corporation

The partnership between OCL and OCISO NPH continues to benefit both organizations and the community as a whole. They are proud of their partnership and would be pleased to share their experiences with other organizations seeking to form similar partnerships in their community.

EMPLOYEES MATTER

OASIS Submission to the Ontario Ministry of Labour Steering Committee on ” Closing the Gender Wage Gap” 

Last year, the Premier of Ontario asked the Minister of Labour, working with the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, to develop a wage strategy to address a pay gap between men and women.

Over the past year, the appointed Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee has been conducting research and has been consulting the public to examine the gender wage gap in more detail. In response for public input on The Hidden Gendered Costs of Informal Caregiving, OASIS submitted a response outlining our understanding of the challenges and proposals to help address several issues. The OASIS submission reflects the values of our organization – collaborative, proactive, and solutions-oriented in working with government to help Ontario’s most vulnerable.

Summary of the OASIS submission.
The full submission can be found here here.

As a member-centric organization representing agencies that provide front line service to Ontario’s most vulnerable, OASIS is able to understand concerns province-wide from service providers.

The fact is, the informal care costs to the Canadian economy are massive.  We know that the majority of these informal caregivers are women – women who are simultaneously giving up their career earnings opportunities in order to cover for the lack of formal developmental services (DS) supports available to vulnerable Ontarians on wait lists. An increase in basic services and support for ending wait lists in the DS sector will instantly relieve the hidden burden of informal caregiving on the economy as a whole.

While pay equity legislation was introduced to help combat the issue in Ontario broadly, the blanket approach to regulation has in fact harmed the cause in the DS sector by making hospitals the in-sector comparator, while not providing the additional funding needed to cover the shortfall in wages created. This has negatively impacted the employment situation in the sector as a whole – a sector which should have been held up as a model of equity.

In addition to pay equity cost pressures, DS agencies will soon see additional unexpected cost pressures as a result of Ontario’s proposed Retirement Pension Plan. These agencies, with budgets already stretched, may be forced to shut down or cut back operations.

In order to protect women from gender-related workplace discrimination, the province must mitigate these pressures. Make changes to the Proxy Pay Equity legislation, or amend Proxy Regulation 396/93, to allow for in-sector comparators, placing a moratorium on Proxy Pay Equity liabilities until changes are put in place, and commit to funding pay equity adjustments to completion once the changes are in place.

The gender wage gap will not be closed by a single solution. It will require a variety of approaches, and education and awareness must be included as part of the broad toolkit.