The government’s social policy focus includes continued investment in health care, education, the environment and some modest gains in social assistance in their recently released 2013 Budget. For example, there is a continued focus on expanding investments in the home and community care, by one per cent. There will be no increases in base operating funding for hospitals. An Ontario Action Plan for Seniors will be launched to build on Dr. Samir Sinha’s recommendations. Specific to the mental health and addictions sector, there is mention of support for a range of community-based services and supports, and the expansion of the implementation plan for the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy to include adults in 2014/2015.
Some of the other highlights include:
- Support for mental health and addictions services across Ontario including “early intervention, community-based counselling, employment training, supportive housing, residential treatment, and prevention of and treatment for substance abuse and problem gambling”;
- Youth Jobs Strategy – The government is proposing $295 million over two years;
- Five new Community Wellness Development Teams with mental health and addictions expertise, blending traditional and cultural practices;
- One per cent increase for ODSP (as of September 2013) and OW (as of October 2013) rates; with an additional $14/month top-up for single adults without children;
- A new earnings exemption of $200, along with changes to asset limits and rules; every dollar above $200 will reduce benefits by $0.50 (status quo). Also, consideration of self-employment earnings as similar to other employment earnings;
- Discussions on a Partnership Council for Employment Opportunities of People with Disabilities to champion hiring of people with disabilities;
- The maximum annual child benefit (OCB) will increase to $1,210 per eligible child in July 2013, and $1,310 in July 2014.