Ontario Budget 2020 – Overview of Key Announcements
The 2020 Ontario Budget, released yesterday, includes important new investments in services for people who have developmental disabilities, valuable supports for people with disabilities more generally, and several relevant initiatives that were announced previously this year.
New investments in developmental services
- This year’s provincial budget proposes new funding of $361 million in 2021–22 in the developmental services sector, “to continue to support clients currently in service and new high-risk clients.” This amounts to an approximately 12% increase for the developmental services sector and will support improvements in services as well as a reduction in the provincial waitlist. The ministry has indicated that this funding will grow to $471 million in 2022-23.
- The 2020 budget also proposes a new $2 million Inclusive Community Grants Program, which will “fund the development of community supports that promote healthy and active ageing, supporting the social engagement of older adults and people with disabilities, helping them to be safe and secure at home and in the community as well as participate in the labour force.” A similar program under the previous Liberal government was an important contributor to the development of innovative housing solutions for people with disabilities, and we look forward to learning more about this initiative.
- The budget announced a second round of payments through the Support for Learners initiative. In March 2020, this program provided “$250 per child and youth with special needs up to 21 years old,” and will do so again in the coming months.
- The province will also continue the Ontario Community Support Program, spending $16 million over two years “to connect people with disabilities, older adults and others with underlying medical conditions who are self-isolating, with meals, medicines and other essentials while they stay at home.”
- The Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit will provide support for seniors to make renovations that will allow them to stay in their homes longer. With a value of up to $2,500, this refundable credit may help older people who have an intellectual disability age in place, rather than being forced to transition to the long–term care system.
Reannouncements of Initiatives Already Underway
The 2020 provincial budget includes several programs and initiatives relevant to the developmental services sector that were announced earlier in the year:
- Special Services at Home (SSAH) funding will be extended to an additional 4,700 children and youth in the current fiscal year, and to 2,100 children youth in each of the following years. We anticipated that this expansion would have happened earlier in the year, and we are hopeful that funds will flow to families in the next 30 days. *It is not clear if this expansion is included in the investments mentioned above. CLO is in the process of clarifying this with MCCSS.
- The province will continue to follow the guidance contained in the COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People, which includes direction on safe visitation to and outings from developmental service residential facilities.
- The budget notes that $461 million in temporary wage increases will be provided to 147,000 personal support workers and direct support workers across the province. This includes Developmental Service Workers, who – while often underappreciated – are incredibly important in the provision of specialized support and care to people who have developmental disabilities. This increase was effective October 1, and we encourage the provincial government to flow funds in short order. (Unfortunately, this increase will not be available to workers who are hired directly by individuals and families, for example with Passport funding.)