According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The definition of disability varies greatly, but it is generally agreed that about 16 per cent of the Ontario population have some form of disability. This represents almost 2 million individuals, many of whom are ready, willing and able to work. The number of people with disabilities is slowly rising as the population ages.
Many people find that they are no longer able to function competitively in their past workplace due to their disability, and look to be retrained to preserve their dignity and to make a contribution to the economy. Other people with disabilities are hopeful of finding a niche in today’s improved economy. It is difficult to be objective when considering an individual’s potential to work. Often, diseases are cyclical. Medical doctors may not be in the best position to evaluate the labour market. Employability assessment is not a pure science. Every job searcher soon discovers that finding employment is a combination of preparation, motivation and good luck.
If you are looking for work while collecting income support as a disabled person, it is best to contact the people who provide your support and see what services or opportunities are offered. The policy of government disability programs is to provide services as a “last resort”, meaning you must provide evidence that you are ineligible for programs through your last employer, Worker’s Compensation or through a private insurance company.
All vocational services require that you have an updated medical from your doctor endorsing your decision to explore vocational options, and explaining that you have the ability to undertake competitive work. There are few options for people who can not work competitively. Options for them can be found under the Developmental Services Act.
The Ontario Disability Support Program offers several benefits under their Employment Supports Services:
- help with developing an employment plan
- employment preparation support and training
- technical aids ranging from mobility devices and reading aids to adapted computers and the training to use them
- Interpreter, reader, note taker, and intervener services
- travel, route, and orientation training
- job placement support
- job coaching and help with job searches
- on-the-job training
- transportation assistance while training for a job
Employment Action Plan
You will receive an application package which includes an application form, information about the program, and a Verification of Disability Form.
Complete and mail the application with the Disability Verification Form (if not on ODSP income support) to the Employment Supports Office. You will receive acknowledgement of your application within five days. You will then be contacted to determine initial eligibility. An Employment Plan may be drafted with the help of outside agencies, which identifies the employment goal, barriers to employment and steps required to achieve a competitive employment goal.
An action plan, outlining steps to employment and required disability-related supports, must be documented in a prescribed format. The Toronto ODSP office will refer you to suitable vendors who can help with this plan. Time frames and estimated cost, along with expected outcomes must be fully detailed. Options for training or utilizing community agencies including estimates of costs must accompany the plan. Requested goods and services over $500.00 must be submitted with at least two written quotes. The Interactive Training Inventory [ITI] is invaluable in researching training and costs. It is essential that you understand the plan, feel comfortable about your ability to follow through with the actions and are confident that the plan can lead to competitive employment.
The Verification Form is for individuals applying who are not receiving ODSP Income Support and must be completed by a professional person who knows your disability.
Under the Supports to Employment Program (STEP) Program, you are entitled to retain much of your earnings when starting employment. You may also be eligible for drug benefits, depending upon your budget. In addition, an employment start-up allowance can be issued when you begin employment or a job search.
ODSP Employment Supports will assist eligible participants in their program to access job trials, job coaching and some employment accommodation as approved. They may provide job specific training and worksite modifications (including technical aids and interpreters / interveners). Training courses which are OSAP eligible cannot be funded. (You should contact the Special Needs Office at a College or University or an OSAP Office for funding assistance). Often a combination of individualized services are used to help someone adjust to the world of work.
For an application form for ODSP Employment Supports:
Call: 416-750-0666 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org