Minister Todd Smith Meets with Community Living Ontario and Other Developmental Services Leaders to Discuss Future of the Sector

On March 12, 2020, at his request, Community Living Ontario alongside other provincial leaders in the Developmental Services sector met with Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Todd Smith.

Minister Smith described his plans for sector-wide consultations on the transformation of Developmental Services.

He outlined his objectives for a sector-wide transformation, saying he believes in a system of supports that are responsive, person-directed, and sustainable for generations to come.

Minister Smith affirmed that he shares a common vision with the sector; a vision where people with developmental disabilities fully belong in their communities as citizens, contributors and neighbours. While he acknowledged that some support organizations have come a long way towards achieving this, many have not. It is time to have a principle-based discussion about where the system is today, where we want it to be in a decade, and how the sector, community and government might achieve this together.

The Minster recognized that during this time, a stable support sector is vital to this transformation. It will not take place overnight, but will instead be a gradual process over the next 8-10 years. This reflects the need for core foundational elements to be put in place, and to test and make changes that are effectively implemented and minimally disruptive.

The consultation process will be informed by key insights, evidence and advice provided to the government by the sector. Everyone agreed that people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities must be meaningfully involved in this process, as must families. An external review related to leading practices from jurisdictions from around the world will be conducted.

The engagement will be focused on the following areas for reform:

  • Developing an individualized, needs-based funding approach;
  • Improving the assessment process and experience for people;
  • Promoting accountability for high-quality services and better quality of life outcomes for people;
  • Making supports person-directed, responsive and seamless; and,
  • Adopting technology solutions for effective service delivery.

The process will include regional sessions to ensure the ministry hears from a broad range of people and agency partners from across the province, including northern, rural and remote communities, as well as urban centres and small towns.

It will also include a Reference Group that will include diverse representation and serve as a regular working table to advise the ministry on policy and implementation considerations.

Community Living Ontario is pleased that Minister Smith is acknowledging what people, families and local associations have been telling him:

  • The current system is broken and is only responsive to crisis;
  • That the status quo is not an option going forward;
  • That authentic inclusion and citizenship does not reside in the current model;
  • That supports must be person-directed and more broadly available.

Radical ideas and radical changes are needed, and this may be our last, best chance for a long time, to work with government to create an Ontario that actually includes people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities as full, participating, contributing citizens.

On behalf of our Council, Board of Directors, Family Steering Committee, Provincial Executive Directors Coordination Committee, and all our members, we look forward to working with Minister Smith and his team to achieve these goals.

Chris Beesley, CEO, Community Living Ontario