Legislative Rights and Potential Government-Funded Programs
Landmark government legislation in the 1980's changed the focus of Ontario schools from being "teacher-centered" to being "student-centered". This meant that teachers had to change their teaching and evaluation methods to support the needs of all students, including those with legitimate learning difficulties. This legislation, Bill 82, paved the way for making assistance available to individuals from grade school to college and university. More recently, new laws (such as the AODA or the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005) have sensitized work environments to support individuals with all types of disabilities, including those that involve mental health, learning and executive functioning/productivity.
How Can Cornerstone Help?
If a client qualifies, we can provide documentation as “proof of needs” for accommodations or modifications at school or in the workplace such as:
- Individual Education Plans or IEPs for school
- Form completion for high stakes testing situations such as the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, GRE, licensing exams, etc.)
- Letters to employers
- Advocacy/attendance at school meetings and/or in the workplace
We can also guide clients to relevant agencies and/or government assisted programs and, where relevant, provide supporting evidence for clients to use when applying for grants and bursaries such as:
- Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP) for Individuals with Disabilities which includes an increased parent income threshold for participation and up to 30% off tuition/books costs for post-secondary students. Students must visit the Financial Office at their chosen school to gain more information and the appropriate forms to fill out.
- Visit: www.ontario.ca/page/students-special-circumstances#section-3
- Bursary for Students with Disabilities (BSWD) provides up to $2000 per academic year to cover mental health services, psychological assessment costs and/or a technology bursary, if relevant.
- Visit: www.osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/en/A-ZListofAid/WEBUCONT033210.html
- Ontario Disability Support Program is designed to supplement income for those who qualify with significant mental health needs or other disabilities. Coverage includes medication and additional money for rent and other expenses. Potential candidates must first make an appointment at their local office to learn more about the program and to obtain the correct forms.
- Visit: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/odsp/index.aspx
- CRA Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with severe disabilities (e.g. a disability which impacts their mental functioning 90% of the time) by reducing the amount of income tax they or their supporting persons (e.g. parents/spouses) may have to pay. An individual may claim the disability amount once they are eligible for the DTC. This amount includes a supplement for persons under 18 years of age at the end of the year. Typically, this does not cover diagnoses like learning disabilities or ADHD but it does cover diagnoses such as developmental/intellectual disabilities, severe mental health diagnoses and Autism Spectrum Disorders. The purpose of the DTC is to provide for greater tax equity by allowing some relief for disability costs, since these are unavoidable additional expenses that other taxpayers don’t have to face.
- Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other federal, provincial, or territorial programs such as theregistered disability savings plan, the working income tax benefit, and the child disability benefit.
- Here is a link to the DTC form but clients are encouraged to get the most current version by looking this T2201 Form up on the Internet: www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t2201/t2201-16e.pdf
- Developmental Services Ontario (DSO) is a program designed to assist those with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities. There are various offshoot programs offered beyond financial assistance including respite care, recreational programs, training grants and other types of support. Visit: www.dsontario.ca Individuals and their families usually have to book appointments first before filling out forms to discuss eligibility requirements.