Yes, its possible to save taxpayers millions while gettingmore people who have a disability into the workforce
Ontario spends $3.3 billion a year on disability income support, a figure that’s growing at a rate of 5% a year. Yet, its frustratingly difficult for many people who have a disability to find ameaningful place in the economy because of systemic roadblocks.
The Network recently released a report to Ontario’s Social Assistance Review Commission that includes 37 recommendations aimed at helping more people who have a disability find work,while also saving taxpayers millions.
According to Statistics Canada, 15.9% of Canadians have a disability and a staggering 49% of adults who have a disability are not in the workforce. Helping them get jobs is good for all of us because it reduces dependency on social assistance and allows them to contribute to the tax base.
Fixing the system – an encompassing term for the myriad of government departments and ministries that fund employment – doesnt have to be difficult.
Many of the Networks practical recommendations identify savings, in many cases without the investment of new resources. Some recommendations are simple administrative changes, such as eliminating the requirement for a second eligibility approval for those who receive income support but want help finding ajob.
Some recommendations are more complex and will take longer to implement.
The Network’s top5 recommendations include:
- Creating a single employment services framework that incorporates all ministries and departments that have responsibility for disability services
- Moving the five existing funding pots to a single stream for all employment services and transferring responsibility for those resources to municipalities Ensuring other programs that support people who have a disability do not compete with or undermine employment opportunities.
- Changing to an audit-based accountability system, similar to that used in the income tax system
- Moving to an income reporting and adjustment system that is technology-driven and similar to an „equal billing’ system commonly used by utility companies.
Don Drummond is on the right track with his recommendations to streamline administration.However, his understanding about what’s needed to accommodate people with disabilities in the workplace is somewhat naïve.
Services that help people who have a disability get into the workforce have been operating in Ontario for almost 40 years. But the Province’s fragmented approach to disability funding and related policy has made the provision of employment services for this group virtually unmanageable.
The Network flat out rejects the Drummond suggestion to transfer responsibility for employment programs to Employment Ontario.”The one-stop Employment Ontario model is a giant step backward and will not serve people who have a disability well.
It didn’t respond to people who have a disability in the past when it was known as the Canada Manpower Centre and there’s no reason to think it will work anybetter today,” says Joe Dale, the Networks executive director.
“Without specialized disability services and supports, more people will be turned away at the front door under this model”.
“Between projected labour shortages and increasing acceptance of people who have a disability in the workplace, we are optimistic for the future, provided we can get the system on track.”
While the Network awaits further discussion with the Social Assistance Review Commission, it fears next week’s provincial budget will circumvent the Commission’s work by adopting theDrummond recommendation to transfer services to Employment Ontario.
To read the Ontario Disability Employment Network’s full report and recommendations go to:http://www.odenetwork.com/library/submission-to-the-social-assistance-review-commission/
For more information, contact:
905-706-4348 – 30 –
Ontario Disability Employment Network
379 Dundas Street W