A new report by the Select Committee on Developmental Services details 46 recommendations for developmental services in Ontario, emphasizing the need to reduce waitlists for individuals waiting for care. The cross-party Committee was struck in October of 2013 with a mandate to provide recommendations that address the urgent service, housing and education needs of children, youth and adults in Ontario with an intellectual disability or who are dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and a mental health issue.
The report recommends a new committee be convened to focus on eliminating waitlists for developmental services and supports within 12 months.
The report, titled “Inclusion and Opportunity: A New Path for Developmental Services in Ontario,” recommends that a new Inter-Ministerial Committee on Developmental Services (IMCDS) be convened to primarily focus on eliminating all waitlists for developmental services and supports within 12 months. The IMCDS would then set out to create a plan for implementing the remaining recommendations which include:
- Realigning the mandate of Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) organizations to focus on system navigation, building connections within communities and services and sharing information;
- Improved data collection, quality evaluations and a new appeal process for DSOs
- More flexible use of funding provided to families to better meet the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities;
- Better staffing ratios, legal pay equity and long-term multi-year funding for service agencies in the community;
- Build capacity and coordinate services in primary and dental care for people with developmental disabilities or a dual diagnosis throughout the lifespan;
- Local support options for remote, rural and First Nations communities;
- Better training for and access to Educational Assistants;
- Examining the options for the housing needs of older adults with an intellectual disability or a dual diagnosis;
- The development of locally-based, affordable day programs; etc.
The Committee also had specific recommendations to enhance services for people with a dual diagnosis, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including:
- Increased programs and services that meet the needs of dually diagnosed individuals;
- The use of mental health courts and other diversion mechanisms for individuals with a dual diagnosis who have come into contact with the law; and
- The recommendations made in the Joint Policy Guideline for the Provision of Community Mental Health and Developmental Services for Adults with a Dual Diagnosis be implemented.
- Timely and better coordinated services throughout Ontario, including a public health awareness campaign on the impact of maternal alcohol use; and
- The use of mental health courts and other diversion mechanisms for individuals with FASD who have come into contact with the law.
- Timely and better coordinated services throughout Ontario including access to early diagnosis and intervention
CMHA Ontario works closely with the Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC) to address some of the recommendations specific to mental health courts and diversion programs that help to keep individuals with an intellectual disability, a dual diagnosis, and/or FASD out of the criminal justice system. To find out where new mental health courts are being established and how this issue is being addressed at the local level in Ontario, read the 2013-14 Provincial HSJCC Annual Report.