MAGAZINE OF THE SASKATCHEWAN ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY LIVING
S A C L
60 Y E A R S
AFTER 11 YEARS IN THE MAKING:
SELF-DIRECTED FUNDING IS HERE! READ ABOUT OUR WORK IN CREATING THIS NEW OPTION INTEREC SUMMER PROGRAM
INTEREC: SUMMER FUN Prince Albert’s INTEREC program teaches children with intellectual disabilities how to be creative and have fun!
16 SAID CHANGES
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
SELF-DIRECTED FUNDING IS HERE!
MEET: SARAH CHAPPELL
BUILDING A CASE FOR THE NORTH
SACL 2016 FAMILY CONFERENCE
INTEREC: SUMMER FUN
MEET: BRAD TREVISAN
Join us in celebrating this disability milestone, and read more about our work to make SDF a reality.
Self-Advocate and SACL Office Assistant Sarah Chappell shares her perspective.
Director of Community Engagement, NPI, Graham Dickson lays out the case for bringing supports to the north.
Find out more about what happened at this year’s family conference.
Communications & Marketing Manager, Travis Neufeld spends time with Prince Albert’s INTERC program.
Find out more about the proposed changes to SAID and the SACL’s position.
Another SACL project is underway.
Ready, Willing, & Able needs your help connecting individuals to employment opportunities around Saskatchewan.
22 MEET: BRAD TREVISAN
SACL’s EET Alyssa Lindsay shares the story of Home Depot employee Brad Trevisan.
THE SASKATCHEWAN ASSOCIATION FOR COMMUNITY LIVING (SACL) IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT OFFERS SUPPORT TO INDIVIDUALS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES AND THEIR FAMILIES. SACL’S VISION All individuals are valued, supported, and included in all aspects of life. SACL’S MISSION Is to ensure that citizens of Saskatchewan who have intellectual disabilities are valued, supported, and included members of society and have opportunities and choices in all aspects of life.
Canadian Publications Mail Agreement No. 40063438 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Saskatchewan Association For Community Living 3031 Louise Street Saskatoon, SK S7J 3L1
SACL BOARD OF DIRECTORS June Avivi Dawnette Brett Trina Brooks Cindy Busse Juanita Buyaki Gini Calvert Bluesette Campbell Dianne Christianson Doug Conn Jamie Ellis Tina Friesen Ann Gagnon Kellan Gulka-Tiechko Nytosha Kober Gloria Mahussier Mike Mahussier Janice Rutherford Kim Sandager Launel Scott Loretta Schugmann Ted Schugmann Tami Smith Sonya Solonas Wilda Wallace Margaret Woods
SACL PROVINCIAL OFFICE 3031 Louise Street Saskatoon, SK, S7J 3L1
Phone: (306) 955-3344 Email: email@example.com Website: www.sacl.org PHOTO CREDITS Cover/SDF: Matt Smith Help Wanted: Sheila Anderson Everything Else: Travis Neufeld
DESIGN & LAYOUT BY: Travis Neufeld
Dialect is published by the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. The Dialect is funded in part by the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association.
Dialect is owned and published by the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL). The publisher, authors, and contributors reserve their rights in regards of copyright of their work. All articles, stories, interviews and other materials in Dialect are the copyright of Dialect, or are reproduced with permission from other copyright owners. All rights reserved. No articles, stories, interviews and other materials may otherwise by copies, modified, published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior permission of the SACL. No person, organization, or party should rely or on any way act upon any part of the contents of this publication whether that information is sourced from a website, magazine or related product without first obtaining the advice of a fully qualified person. The publisher, editors, contributors and related parties shall have no responsibility for any actions or omission by any other contributor, consultant, editor, or related party. The information published in the magazine is believed to be true and accurate but the SACL cannot accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may occur or make any warranty for the published materials.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT AND THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - GLORIA MAHUSSIER & KEVIN MCTAVISH The SACL has been pushing the door open on self-directed funding for almost 10 years. We knew back then that it was time to add another option for parents to the existing care model in our province. The SACL was hearing from families that they wanted a model of support where individuals with intellectual disabilities had their own homes and would have control over the support required to live the lives they chose. We know that the journey to add this option on the list of options available to families has not come without some difficult discussions. We could not be more pleased that these complexities over the years were overcome, and that our Government of Saskatchewan is doing the right thing that is in the best interest of those individuals using government services.
CELEBRATING 60 YEARS This year marks the SACL’s 60th year in operation. Over the past 6 decades, the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living has been supporting people with intellectual disabilities all over the province. Please join us in celebrating this amazing milestone and incredible achievement.
S A C L
60 Y E A R S
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
SELF DIRECTED FUNDING IS HERE.
Travis Neufeld Communications & Marketing Manager
After nearly eleven years of working, negotiating, planning, and dreaming SACL Director of Strategic Initiatives, Judy Hannah, has finally received word about the fate of her flagship project Self-Directed Funding (SDF). Judy knew in advance of the Ministry of Social Services’ official announcement, but it was not until Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said the words that it finally felt real. After all this time, her work along with so many others has finally paid off. Self-Directed Funding has finally come to Saskatchewan. In the world of disability, the concept of SDF is one of the easier ones to wrap your head around. Simply put, it provides funding to individuals with disabilities directly, as opposed to providing funds to the organizations / professionals that support them. When you first hear about it, SDF seems obvious, or almost like something that does or ought to already have existed. Yet, it took over a decade to pull together and get approved. SDF is all about choice. It’s about empowering individuals who have disabilities to make choices in their lives about where they live, how they live, who they live with, and everything else that comes with being an independent citizen. With SDF, individuals with intellectual disabilities have agency. They can hire the support they like, plan out their day’s activities, and make the choices necessary to live a happy and fulfilling life. It was a dream for so many in Saskatchewan, until now. IN THE BEGINNING The dream of SDF began sometime in
2005. The SACL had conducted a series of community consultations with families and discovered that there was significant interest in more personalized supports and services, as opposed to the traditional supports and services. Based on these consultations, the SACL began conversations with a number of parties in government and communities around the province - all of whom were initially curious about the idea but had a few concerns. They wondered
supportable evidence that SDF would not cost the government anymore money than traditional supports and that only 5-10% of the population would access SDF. This went a long way in easing concerns that had been raised. A DOOR OPENS Around 2010-2011, Judy setup a meeting with the then Minister of Social Services, June Draude. In the meeting, Judy brought
SDF is all about choice. It’s about empowering individuals who have disabilities to make choices in their lives about where they live, how they live, who they live with, and everything else that comes with being an independent citizen. about cost, accountability, and how families would find and retain staff. It seemed that from the very outset, Self-Directed Funding was going to take a lot of work. Fortunately, Saskatchewan wasn’t the first place to adopt SDF. In one form or another, Saskatchewan’s neighboring provinces (BC, AB, MB) already had a working version of SDF in place. Additionally, the U.K. and Australia had both launched similar programs. By looking into not only the outcomes, but also how these other provinces and countries had implemented SDF, the SACL was able to provide documented evidence on SDF’s potential. Through this research, the SACL was able to deliver
along Gloria Mahussier (President of the SACL) and Karen Cherwoniak (Board Chair, Community Living). In the meeting, both Gloria and Karen shared their stories, thoughts, and experiences with the minister - both strongly advocating for more personalized supports and services. By the end of the meeting, the minister decided that SDF was something that the Ministry needed to look into. The door was open. The government invited the SACL to help guide the development and framework of SDF. The SACL also organized a tour of BC, AB, and MB to gather firsthand information on the best practices of personalized supports and services. Over
SELF-DIRECTED FUNDING IS HERE
the next year, the whole project had evolved into a single joint committee between government, the SACL, and members of the community. In 2012, the committee began to consider how Self-Direct Funding could work in Saskatchewan. THE DEMONSTRATION PROJECT In 2014, the Ministry of Social Services moved ahead with a SDF demonstration project to explore the possibility of making it available for all of Saskatchewan. The goal was to see how it well it worked, find solutions to issues with the process, and gather enough data to make an informed decision. Eight families were chosen by government to become the first recipients of SDF and the SACL hired a Self-Directed Funding Facilitator, Amy Leonard, to assist the families with figuring out all of the details of the program. BRODIE PATTERSON One of those recipients is Brodie Patterson of Marshall, Saskatchewan. Together with
SELF-DIRECTED FUNDING IS HERE
his parents Tracy and Rob, Brodie has spent the better part of the last two years planning and implementing his new personalized supports and services. While it has taken some time, and been something of a learning curve for all three of them, Brodie now lives with supports that are designed to fit him, not the other way around. So far, it’s been an incredible success, despite a few setbacks and difficulties. “He picks, that’s the rule. It’s his life,” says Tracy. Thanks to SDF, Brodie now has a choice in every aspect of his life, from his daily activities to the support staff he hires. There is no plan outside of the one Brodie has created for himself. SDF has given him agency in life just as anyone else would have, only with the supports that he needs. “Without SDF, Brodie would have had to move into a group home where he wouldn’t be able to do everything he wanted to do. He might only be able to do the things that staff allowed him to do,” says Tracy. “If it wasn’t for SDF, we would have to move to Alberta because there was not a small chance that Brodie would ever live in
a group home. It wouldn’t happen for us.” Anyone who knows Brodie can see a remarkable difference in him since being in SDF. He is now more confident in trying new things and adventures. Brodie holds a regular job at local water company Waterworld, and lives a very active lifestyle that includes eating in his favourite restaurants, swimming at the public pool, getting groceries, and cooking for his family (meals that this writer can attest are fantastic). For Brodie, Tracy, and Rob, SDF has been a dream come true. Despite having to develop a whole new skill set that includes organizing payroll, learning how to hire staff, and issuing records of employment, Tracy still thinks that it’s the best method of support for Brodie. “It’s worth it. It’s work, but it’s worth it,” says Tracy. Now, thanks to all of the work put into the project over the last eleven years, individuals with intellectual disabilities in Saskatchewan can share in that dream. Self-Directed Funding is here.
MEET: SARAH CHAPPELL SACL’S NEW OFFICE ASSISTANT SHARES HER PERSPECTIVE BY SARAH CHAPPELL
My name is Sarah Chappell. Something that a lot of people do not know about me is that I was diagnosed at a very young age with a rare nonverbal learning disability. But I don’t let my disability define me. I make the best of it. I have problems with social cues like standing too close to people, making new friends, and meeting new people because I can get shy and nervous. The main part of my disability is that the left side of my brain is weaker than my right side. There is no known cure for a nonverbal learning disability, but there are things that I can do to help make that side stronger, like making lists of daily chores, listening to a song to memorize the words, playing a matching game, working out some math questions, and just memorizing people’s faces that I have talked to before. A lot of people I meet don’t understand my disability, but I don’t let that bother me. I am living what I consider to be a normal life. I like to do things everyday like shopping, going for coffee, watching movies, listening to music, etc. A very good friend of mine once told me that I remind them of a bottle of Champagne, because they like my warm bubbly fun personality.
I have two part time jobs and I love them both. I work at Pizza Hut on Friday and Saturday mornings from 10 am to 12 noon and my other part time job is working as a front desk office assistant at the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. I belong to two clubs as well. One is called Best Buddies and it is a U of S pro-
“A lot of people I meet don’t understand my disability, but I don’t let that bother me. I am living what I consider to be a normal life.”
gram here in Saskatoon. I keep registering for it every year because it is fun and it is full of amazing people. The other program
I am involved in is called ICAN and is a self-advocacy group organized by the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. It is also an amazing program, as it does fun events and community ones as well. The ICAN group holds fun events like movie nights, a coffee night, and meetings to talk about important issues like the new bus system. Best Buddies on the other hand holds events like Saskatoon Blade’s Game nights, and the year end party which has dance music, great food, amazing people and games including a photo booth. I would like to say a big thank you to the wonderful staff at the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living as I really appreciate what you do each day and for including me in your Community family. I love my job as your new Front Desk Assistant. The best thing is I love coming to work and being in a place that has positive energy and positive staff members that go above and beyond to make an impact and difference in people’s lives. All of you here at the office have truly made the best impact and difference in mine.
MEET: SARAH CHAPPELL
A PATH FOR INCLUSION BUILDING A CASE FOR SUPPORTS IN THE NORTH
Not all individuals and families share the same experiences. Where one family struggles, another thrives. However, we can say with certainty that, whatever hardships exist for people living with intellectual disabilities in Saskatchewanâ€™s major cities and towns, the residents of the north face greater challenges. This is why the SACL created the Northern Partnerships for Inclusion (NPI). Northern Partnerships for Inclusion aims to address wide-ranging, systemic issues around the lack of supports for people with intellectual disabilities in northern Saskatchewan. Our goal is to help develop community-based and community-appropriate solutions to the challenges that face families in the north. The north is a distinct area with distinct needs. The ways in which we have supported individuals and families in the south is not necessarily going to work in the north. Consider, for instance, that with half of Saskatchewanâ€™s land mass, the north is home to just 37,000 people spread out over 45 communities. These communities are sometimes very isolated, with few roads connecting people to one another.
DEMOGRAPHICS The north is a very youthful place. Whereas 44% of people in Saskatchewan are under the age of 35, in the north that number jumps to roughly 66%. Even more striking is the cultural makeup, where roughly 80% self-identify as First Nations (Dene, Cree or Metis). Compare this with the provincial rate, where 80% of the population self-identifies as European heritage. There is wide and growing recognition that the residential school system inflicted incredible trauma on First Nations communities. Given that a large majority of the north identify as First Nations, it should follow that there are magnified cultural effects of the residential school system in northern communities. In a sense, the story of the residential system is truly a northern one. One symptom of this trauma is a higher rate of alcohol and drug abuse, and this bears out in some disturbing statistics. For example, it is estimated that roughly 0.1% of children born in Canada every year have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD); this number can jump as high as 20% in some high-risk First Nations communities.
A path in a northern Saskatchewan provincial park.
We are working closely with partners in each community to find efficiencies, to smooth out jurisdictional barriers, to bridge the gaps in knowledge, and to develop locally based solutions for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
A PATH FOR INCLUSION: BUILDING A CASE FOR SUPPORTS IN THE NORTH
FASD in itself is not an intellectual disability, but it can cause cognitive delays. THE BARRIERS There are numerous barriers to accessing supports and services in the north. Social taboos around disability are one example. There is a hesitancy to talk about such things because the conversation tends toward assigning blame or speaking with broad generalities and prejudice. These taboos should not, but in fact do detract from our ability to address the needs of those living with disabilities. There are many more examples of barriers that we need to address. Providing services to 37,000 people in a city like Prince Albert costs money. When
Who pays for what? Depending on your age, location, or status, this varies. There are several provincial and federal ministries and community-based organizations (CBOs) involved in supporting the people with intellectual disabilities. Trying to understand each entity, how they intersect or overlap, their mandate and responsibility, and how their criteria differs can be complex. Navigating the system is difficult, and many families do not know where to start or have simply given up trying. KNOWING THE NEED There are large gaps in our knowledge of what is happening in the north. Because of the complications around assessments, Social Services can only estimate what the real
THE PATH FORWARD As a part of NPI, the SACL has selected four demonstration communities: La Ronge, Pinehouse, Creighton, and Onion Lake. We are working closely with partners in each community to find efficiencies, to smooth out jurisdictional barriers, to bridge the gaps in knowledge, and to develop locally based solutions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Our hope is to take the lessons we learn in these four communities and use them to help facilitate new approaches to better serve the entire north. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we have found a shared desire to bridge these gaps on the part of governments at all levels, as well as the many CBOs and affected families in the north. Both the federal and
Providing services to 37,000 people in a small area, such as Prince Albert, costs money. When the same number of people live in an area that covers half the province the cost skyrockets. This is perhaps the most obvious barrier to providing supports in the north: it simply costs more. the same number of people live in an area that covers half the province the cost skyrockets. This is perhaps the most obvious barrier to providing supports in the north: it simply costs more. In order to be recognized and supported by the government, individuals with intellectual disabilities must undergo a comprehensive psychological assessment. This assessment generally takes two days to complete and is very costly. Individuals are at times required to leave their communities and bear the costs of transportation and accommodation in a southern location. Furthermore, to our knowledge no psychologist in our province speaks Cree or Dene. This means individuals are being assessed in their second language. The cost and language barriers are only two examples of the problems we currently see around assessments. This key step to access the help they need is often flawed and burdensome for many people.
need is in the north. Because communities are isolated there is little shared knowledge of supports in each community. Because the system can be so complicated, individuals, families, and CBOs in the north simply are not aware of the many services and funding streams available to them. While working to overcome barriers in the north, there are two key points to keep in mind. First, the north is host to a set of circumstances that differ greatly from the south. There are unique needs that require a unique set of responses. Secondly, any response to these needs must be community-owned and community-based. Because of the limited services and supports available in the north, families often have no choice but to send loved ones to larger centres in the south. We know from experience that it is ineffective and inappropriate to remove individuals from their communities. This is why the SACL, through NPI, strives to find community-based solutions.
A PATH FOR INCLUSION: BUILDING A CASE FOR SUPPORTS IN THE NORTH
provincial governments have recognized the needs in the north and have made efforts to work with us. As a result, we have a productive relationship with both Community Living Service Delivery (CLSD) and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). The SACL is uniquely positioned to help facilitate real change. We have more than sixty years of experience and, as such, we are especially well suited to help mediate change. Keep an eye on future issues of Dialect for stories about the north and the work weâ€™re doing in these communities.
GRAHAM DICKSON Director of Community Engagement, NPI
2016 FAMILY CONFERENCE REPORT THE SACL’S MEMBERSHIP MEETS TO DISCUSS PRIORITIES, INCLUSIVE ED, AND CELEBRATE INCLUSION
BY TRAVIS NEUFELD
In June, the SACL celebrated 60 years of working toward full inclusion with a fun, innovative, and very timely family conference in Saskatoon. The event coincidentally landed on the weekend just before Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) became legal in Canada. By the looks on the faces of all those attending, you’d never know that this landmark legislation was just around the corner, but you could feel a certain air of anticipation in the room. Serendipitously, the SACL had invited Michael Bach of the Canadian Association for Community Living to speak at the conference. As one of the preeminent voices in the fight to protect individuals with intellectual disabilities from potential coercion and abuse via MAiD, Michael took the opportunity to address the crowd about the legislation. He spoke eloquently about the progress made thus far, and what the next steps will be. Other speakers at the conference included Tracy Patterson, mother of SDF (Self-Directed Funding) recipient Brodie Patterson; Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison; Valley View Family Group Chair June
Avivi; SACL Director of Inclusion Nich Fraser; and Director of Inclusive Education Canada, Dr. Gordon Porter. Dr. Porter, who is an captivating speaker, gave a brilliant presentation on inclusive education practices throughout Canada. He shared stories from families that had struggled in the education system and successes that he and his team were able to achieve in his home province of New Brunswick. Tracy Patterson also gave an incredibly captivating presentation, but in an entirely different way. Tracy spoke about how the work of the SACL had impacted her life. Tracy, the mother of an individual in the SDF Demonstration Project, spoke earnestly about the difference she had seen in her son, and in herself since the project’s inception. It was one of the more emotional moments of the conference as everyone shared in her stories of challenge and success. While Tracy seemed a bit hesitant about standing up in front of a room full of strangers for fifteen minutes, she did a marvelous job. In addition to speeches and presenta-
tions, the SACL announced the winner of the 2016 Award for Best Inclusive School and Inclusive Employer of the Year. Barbara Tanner, a teacher from Kamsack Comprehensive Institute, attended the conference and accepted the award on behalf of the school. Ross Nykiforuk accepted the employer award on behalf of Construction Fasteners & Tools. Later on in the evening, once the day’s events had come to a close, the attendees gathered together for a catered supper and inclusive dance, sponsored by SaskEnergy. This year, the dance’s theme was “60’s” and saw a number of conference attendees dress up and hit the dance floor. By all accounts, the dance was awesome, and had nearly everyone in the room celebrating on the dance floor in their own way. Attendees of a sweet-sixteen birthday party taking place in a room nearby crashed the SACL party and asked to join. Conference goers enthusiastically welcomed the girls and the two combined parties danced until the wee hours of the morning.
2016 FAMILY CONFERENCE REPORT
INTEREC: SUMMER FUN PRINCE ALBERT’S INTEREC PROGRAM IS CHANGING LIVES THROUGH SUMMER ACTIVITIES. Sometime in the late 90’s, Gloria Mahussier (SACL President) and another mother of a child with an intellectual disability, Kathy Gryba, approached Prince Albert’s Mann Art Gallery with a new and innovative idea. In a meeting with the gallery’s curator, the two mothers laid out an idea for an art class that would be shaped specifically for children with intellectual disabilities. Through this program, they aimed to encourage children to learn about art and to explore 14
INTEREC: SUMMER FUN
their creative side. During the meeting, they described a process by which a child with a physical disability could create art by using just a light attached to a headband. They brought in Kathy’s daughter, Kaitlyn, who is only mobile from the neck up to demonstrate. Once the headband was attached, the child could move the light around on a canvas as a support worker followed with a paint brush. “It wasn’t a hard sell, but they hadn’t heard of it before,”
recalls Gloria. Amazed, the curator immediately agreed to setup an art program for children with intellectual disabilities in the city. Gloria proudly called the program “Art Abilities,” a name that can now be found in all programs devoted to art therapy for children with disabilities. Fast forward fifteen years, and the program is still just as popular as it was when it started. Now the art class has become a centerpiece of a Prince Albert one-on-one
An INTEREC participant creates an abstract watercolour painting
The group works on a tie-die project.
A large painting created by a participant and support worker by rolling the participant’s wheel chair over a canvas. The footsteps and wheel marks symbolize their journey together.
support program called INTEREC. The program is designed to keep kids active throughout the summer months and include them in group activities so that they can meet other children and take part in all that summer has to offer. The program pairs high school students and young adults with children who have intellectual disabilities from around Prince Albert, each of whom take guidance from the child on what each day’s activities will hold. “It’s all about what the child wants. Whatever the child wants to do that day is what they do,” says Gloria. In addition to the one-on-one activities, all of the participants also meet twice a week for group activities - one of which is the art class. Outside of the scheduled group activities, the support workers and participants usually meet-up to go for coffee, bowling, or out to the lake. Colby Kjargaard, a support worker who spent three years in the program says that “the main thing is to get the kids out of the house so that they can have a good summer. At the same time, parents are provided some respite time.” Over the course of her three years, Colby
has seen the positive impact of the program and the art class first hand. “There’s been lots of kids who become more comfortable in social settings and more outgoing by the end of the program,” says Colby. “A couple summers ago there was a girl who was very shy and distant, but as the summer went on she began to engage with the other participants, and even helped pushing wheelchairs for some of the other participants.” Gloria also notes that the program has a big impact on participants’ social and verbal skills. “Most of the children here are non-verbal. By the end of the summer, the kids have always increased their verbal skills. Most parents are disappointed when the summer program ends because afterward their verbal skills start to decrease. These kids are motivated to communicate when they get together in a group activity.” Needless to say, Prince Albert’s INTEREC program is the kind of thing that changes people’s lives in a way that’s gradual and organic. Through the opportunity to have fun and make friends over the summer months the participants create bonds that last a lifetime. Colby herself says “this program is the reason that I’m going to be a
teacher, and hopefully get into special education.” Thanks to her time in the INTEREC program she, discovered that she really enjoys working with kids everyday and watching them grow. “I just have a passion to work with the kids.” Gloria has seen many of the program’s support workers go on into disability-related professions and keep ties with the individuals they supported. “The workers become part of their family and friends for life,” says Gloria. “Every Monday, the support workers sit around a table and share stories from the week before. They’ll laugh and sometimes they’ll cry. It’s a big part of their lives. For the kids, without this program, they would be sitting in the house looking out the window and watching everyone else play,” explains Gloria. It’s clear that while the program may sound quite relaxed, and doesn’t place any importance on achieving any specific outcomes, its impact is lasting for everyone involved. Travis Neufeld Communications & Marketing Manager
INTEREC: SUMMER FUN
SAID CHANGES To fully understand the Saskatchewan Government’s recent decision to make changes to the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program, you have to step back and take a look at the whole picture. For the last few months, it hasn’t been much of a secret that our province has been experiencing an economic slow down. We live in a globalized economy and the economic health of our province is largely dependent on exports. Of the many things we produce, our biggest
exports are potash, uranium, oil, and gas. In fact, Saskatchewan is a world leader in the exports of potash and uranium. However, in a global market, we have very little control over supply, demand, and the value of our exports. The variables that determine market value are so vast that they are nearly impossible to predict or even react to with any kind of intelligence. It is for these reasons, among many others of course, that Saskatchewan is experiencing an economic slowdown and now has a
sizable deficit. The deficit, as you’ve probably heard on the news or read in the paper, is somewhere around $675 million. According to the Finance Minister Kevin Doherty, “Saskatchewan lost nearly one-third of our resource revenues compared to the previous year.” Long story short, the government has way less money than it was expecting to work with for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and as a result must find areas in which to reduce spending if they are to have any chance at
decreasing the deficit. It is during times like this that governments typically begin to look for “redundancies” in government programs. You will also start hearing things about “focusing on core services” as the government tries to find ways of cutting back and reducing spending. This is in part how we arrived at the recent SAID changes announcement, and why the government refers to the changes as removing “double-dipping” or “redundancies.” At face value and to the untrained eye, these changes could make sense - especially given the language that is used to justify the changes (ie. double-dipping), but this couldn’t be further from the truth. SAID is an incredibly complicated program that defies simplification, and for good reason. SAID was set up to accommodate individuals with all types of backgrounds, disabilities, and economic situations. In order to accomplish this effectively, the program was setup to account for a multitude of variables by offering benefits based on location, parental status, and the costs of utilities. This is how it works: everyone who is approved for SAID receives a standard benefit called the Living Income Benefit. This benefit ranges from $931/month to $1,064/month for one adult, and is calculated based on where the recipient lives (ie. city, town, or rural) and parental status (ie. no child, 1 child, 2 children, etc.). The funds provided by this benefit are intended for accommodation, food, clothing, household expenses, personal needs and incidental expenses. In addition to the Living Income Benefit, SAID also offers other smaller benefits including a Disability Income Benefit and an Exceptional Needs Benefits (e.g. service animals, respite care). Now, it’s important to know that there are two other benefits that SAID recipients can access that are only for renters. One benefit is the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement (SRHS) - which is an entirely separate program outside of SAID - and the other is the Excess Shelter Allowance (aka Excess Living & Extra Living). Ok, so, are you still with me? Because this is where it gets really confusing. When an individual applies for SAID, under the right circumstances, they might be eligible for all 3 types of benefits: the Living Income Benefit, the Saskatchewan
OVERVIEW OF BENEFITS OUTLINED IN THIS ARTICLE
LIVING INCOME BENEFIT
EXCESS SHELTER ALLOWANCE
RENTAL HOUSING SUPPLEMENT
The Living Income Benefit is the foundation of SAID. This benefit is intended for all living expenses and ranges from $963 to $1,064.
The Excess Shelter Allowance is intended for those who live in areas with low vacancy rates. The max amount of this benefit is $150.
The Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement (SHRS) is a benefit intended for rental costs. This program is outside of SAID.
Rental Housing Supplement, and the Excess Shelter Allowance. For those who are eligible for all three, the combination of payments has long been considered a “topup” of their benefits, and thus an increase in their quality of life. However, for those who are familiar with the ever-increasing rent costs in Saskatchewan, even the maximum amount of $1,064 is not enough to cover your rent, as well as everything else for an entire month. The is hardly a “topup” as much as it is a patchwork approach that allows recipients to survive. It is the combination of the SAID benefits as well as the SRHS and the Excess Shelter allowance that has the government claiming double-dipping, because as you can see, all of these benefits cover what is considered housing costs. However, none of these benefits on their own could reasonably cover rent for anyone. Herein lies the issue: the government wants to take away the Excess Shelter allowance so that some recipients aren’t receiving multiple contributions to the same thing; however, any reduction in SAID benefits could mean that certain recipients would no longer be able to make their rent payments. If the recipient has signed a one-year lease, the results
could be even costlier. People could lose their homes and end up living in low-income and largely marginalized communities. For the SACL, we feel that removing or reducing any benefits from SAID recipients is unacceptable. We feel strongly that despite the appearance of prudent fiscal governance, any reduction in SAID payments will only serve to increase the hardships of those most vulnerable among us. This a view that is also shared by the Disability Income Support Coalition (DISC) and by the general public, as seen through the storm of Facebook responses to the government’s announcement. Recently, DISC has met with Minister of Social Services and asked that they forgo these proposed SAID changes and leave the benefits as is. At the time of this writing, both DISC and the SACL are awaiting the Minister’s response. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates.
Travis Neufeld Communications & Marketing Manager
I N C L U S I V E E D U C AT I O N
Inclusive Education The SACL continues its work on Inclusive Education with a new initiative aimed at finding out more about the inclusiveness of Saskatchewanâ€™s education system
FUN WITH FRIENDS
The Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL) began over 60 years ago when Dr. John Dolan decided that children with intellectual disabilities had the right to an education. At that time, and right up until 1970, individuals with intellectual disabilities did not have a right to education within Saskatchewan. In 1971, section 122 of The School Act was amended to state: A board shall, commencing on the first day of September, 1971, provide educational services, satisfactory to the minister and in accordance with the regulations of the department, for children who are handicapped mentally, physically, socially or emotionally. In the years following the 1971 amendment, the Saskatchewan government continued to amend the Act’s language to be more inclusive and stipulated in section 142(1) of The Education Act that every person from the age of six to twenty-two has the right to attend school where his or her parent resides, and to receive instruction appropriate to that person’s age and level of educational achievement. Advocating for mandatory public education for children with intellectual disabilities is what led to the founding of the SACL. For many years since the SACL’s beginnings, education services for persons with intellectual disabilities were primarily segregated from the regular system. As such, the SACL has spent many years working to ensure that students with intellectual disabilities receive an inclusive education in their neighbourhood school, in regular classes, and are supported to learn and participate. We are aware, however, that there are inconsistencies in the implementation of inclusive education supports across the province.
INCLUSIVE EDUCATION COMMITTEE On September 26, 2015, Inclusive Education was identified by the SACL membership as one of the Association’s top three priorities. As a result, the SACL dedicated resources to inclusive education and an action plan that begins with a significant amount of research. The purpose of the research is to develop a more complete understanding of the strengths, needs and challenges surrounding inclusive education in Saskatchewan. At the time of this writing, the SACL has met with families in three different communities, as well as educators, Ministry representatives, professionals and other stakeholders throughout the province. All of this is being done under the leadership and guidance of the SACL’s Inclusive Education Committee. Juanita Buyaki is the Committee Chair, and members include Bluesette Campbell, Nytosha Kober, Greg Plosz and Kim Sandager. The SACL has also hired a summer research assistant, Bonnie Cherewyk, to further support this initiative. Sheila Anderson continues to provide the committee with a connection to the work of the SACL Employment, Education and Transition facilitators. The Inclusive Education Committee is compiling a report that will be presented to the SACL Board in September 2016. The SACL Board will then be in a position to identify the next steps that should be taken to advance inclusive education in Saskatchewan. For everyone out there concerned about the state of inclusive education, please stay tuned for more updates about this project and information about our findings.
WE’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU! The Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL) is interested in hearing your perspective on inclusive education in Saskatchewan. If you would like to share your perspective (including success stories) please email the SACL Director of Strategic Initiatives, Judy Hannah, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions we would like to hear your thoughts on include: 1. What does inclusive education mean to you? 2. What is inclusive in your child’s school? 3. What is not inclusive in your child’s school? 4. If you could make one change in your child’s school what would it be? 5. Who should be involved in making schools more inclusive? 6. What is a parent’s role in making the education system more inclusive?
JUDY HANNAH Director of Strategic Initiatives
While lack of information, understanding and experience are often critical barriers for inclusive employment, in Saskatchewan we have another: finding people to employ. In today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape, there is rapidly increasing pressure on businesses both large and small to be on the cutting edge of innovative practices, processes, and products. A business that can build and retain a team where employees are engaged and invested, and where their skills and interests align with their roles, is much more likely to be successful. Saskatchewan businesses face a shrinking labour pool in an increasingly competitive business market. When suitable replacements are hired, high turnover and absenteeism are costly realities resulting in a need for ongoing recruitment. Across the country, there are important, valuable roles that do not get filled with the right people, or do not get filled at all. Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) is a nationwide initiative committed to helping Canadian employers find ideal candidates with intellectual disabilities who are readily equipped to enter the workplace. THE CASE FOR EMPLOYERS There is significant evidence that hiring individuals who have an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) reduces turnover, improves attendance and either maintains or improves overall organizational performance. Other employees and customers of businesses who engage in inclusive hiring both report positive perceptions and experiences. Additionally, there are virtually no exceptional costs to hiring someone with an intellectual disability or ASD. A study of 2,000 employers by the Job Accommodation Network showed that 57% of employers reported ZERO additional costs from hiring an individual with an intellectual disability or ASD. The remaining 37% reported a one-time minimal cost of under $500.
When it comes to turnover and absenteeism, individuals with intellectual disabilities are much less likely to leave a business for other opportunities or miss work. According to recent studies, the average turnover rate for employees across all industries is 49%. In contrast, turnover rate for employees with intellectual disabilities or ASD is markedly lower, at just 7%. Beyond that, it’s been proven that people want to frequent businesses that reflect their communities and improve the quality of life for their families, friends and neighbours. If given the opportunity to engage
We’ve met with employers all over the province and we’ve been able to create a wealth of employment opportunities. Now, all we need are the people to fill them.
with a business that participates in inclusive hiring, they will. A 2013 survey found this to be overwhelmingly true: 92% of individuals regarded companies hiring people with intellectual disabilities more favourably than their competitors and 87% of people indicated they would prefer to give their business to companies who hire people with disabilities HELP WANTED! We have an untapped resource in unemployed and underemployed individuals
with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Nationwide, there are approximately 500,000 working age adults with intellectual disabilities or ASD, but only one in four are employed. Why is this? While a lack of information, understanding and experience are often critical barriers for inclusive employment, in Saskatchewan we have another: finding people to employ. It might come as a surprise, but the biggest challenge the RWA has faced in securing inclusive employment has been finding the individuals to employ. For the most part, Saskatchewan employers are very open to the idea of being inclusive and creating positions within their organizations for individuals with intellectual disabilities. We’ve met with employers all over the province and we’ve been able to create a wealth of employment opportunities. Now, all we need are the people to fill them. Our focus has now shifted from employers to employees and this article is part of a larger effort to reach out and spread the word: Help Wanted! If you know anyone who has an intellectual disability and is looking for employment, please contact the Saskatchewan Association for Community living at (306) 955-3344 or email me directly at Christopher.Kirstein@sacl.org.
CHRIS KIRSTEIN Director of Labour Market Facilitation
MEET: BRAD TREVISAN I first met Brad Trevisan at Bethlehem High school in October of 2013. At our first transition meeting, Brad asked me to help him with employment planning. Up until that point, Brad had completed some work experience through Bethlehem at both Canadian Tire and Motion Fitness. We discussed a variety of different options and possibilities, but Brad was focused on one in particular: Home Depot. Over the next few months, I continued to work with Brad periodically, while he completed another round of work experience at Superstore. In May of 2014, Brad finally applied at Home Depot. After he did, I reached out to Home Depot’s HR manager, Charmaine Sheridan who was incredibly receptive to the idea of Brad working at their store. Sometime after I got off the phone with her she called Brad and setup an interview. Brad flew through the interview, completed his training and orientation, and began working part-time as a greeter. I had originally offered to provide a job coach 22
MEET: BRAD TREVISAN
through funding from the SACL, but Brad felt confident that he could handle figuring it all out on his own. Even if you’ve only known Brad for five minutes, you’ll know that he’s hardworking and very independent. “Brad has been a great employee for us over the years he has been with Home Depot,” says HR Manager Charmaine Sheridan. “We at Home Depot believe strongly that all people can provide to our business in a meaningful way.” After a few months of working as a greeter, Brad reached out to Charmaine to see if he could take on other new and exciting challenges around the store. In October 2014, Brad was offered a job as a Hardware Department Associate in combination with his greeter position. Brad accepted the offer and increased his commitment to 1620 hours per week. For Brad, the change working at Home Depot has had on his life is significant. Before having a steady job, Brad would find himself isolated and playing video games
to pass the time. But now, thanks to Home Depot, he’s feeling a lot better. He’s more social, outgoing, and ready to take on new and exciting things. For Home Depot, Brad’s employment has been equally beneficial. Brad is a very popular member of the team, a dedicated worker, and has excelled in his customer service duties. “Too frequently employers pass on hiring someone with a disability because they can only see the challenges of hiring someone with a differing ability level than they are used to. We at Home Depot see the opportunity to have another great associate in the store, and we’ve found over the years that our retention of associates whom have a disability of some kind is much higher as compared to the rest of our associates,” says Charmaine. Alyssa Lindsay Employment, Education, and Transitions Facilitator
JOIN US IN THANKING OUR SPONSORS FOR THEIR GENEROUS SUPPORT.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT C O R P O R AT I O N
CONSTRUCTION FASTENERS AND TOOLS LTD.
Realty Executives Value Village Inland Steel Products Sheila Anderson Photography Barndog Productions Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority Investors Group
To donate clothing visit
THEYELLOWBIN.COM or call
1-877-477-2171 ALL DONATIONS SUPPORT INDIVIDUALS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES IN SASKATCHEWAN