Funding increase will help more Ontarians with disabilities live independently

News Release

January 24, 2014 -

The Ontario government is expanding the innovative Direct Funding Program to help more people with disabilities live independently in their homes.

The province is increasing its funding to the Direct Funding Program, which enables adults living with disabilities to manage their care based on their individual needs. The program also eases pressure on Community Care Access Centres and other community support providers, freeing them up for other individuals.

The expanded program will provide direct funding to approximately 1,000 Ontarians with physical disabilities by 2016 to help them self-manage their care.

The funding expansion was announced Jan. 20, 2014, by Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, who called Direct Funding a “beautiful program, which is about empowerment.” She made the announcement at the Independent Living Centre London & Area.

“Many people with disabilities want to manage their own care because it provides them with greater choice, control and flexibility,” said Ms. Matthews. “Direct Funding also results in better value for our precious health dollars, because it relieves pressure on our health care system and frees up resources to provide care for others.

“That's why we're committed to expanding this program to help more people live more independently at home and in their communities."

Administered by the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) through the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TCLHIN), the Direct Funding Program provides monthly funding to about 750 people across the province to recruit, hire and manage their own attendants to assist with their activities of daily living; participants determine how and when their services are provided. Attendants assist clients with routine activities, including dressing, grooming, toileting and bathing. The program also allows caregivers respite, reducing the personal and financial burden on families.

Sandra Carpenter, executive director of CILT, said that she and other attendant service ‘consumers’ (users) such as Ian Parker, senior policy advisor at CILT, have been working for 30 years or more to convince policy makers, bureaucrats and other political leaders that Direct Funding needed to be a viable option on the menu of attendant service delivery.

“It seems that this message has been heard loud and clear,” said Ms. Carpenter. “We know we can enable the full participation of many others through this program. We are extremely gratified.”

One long-time Direct Funding participant who already has a university degree and a college diploma said she would not have been able to accomplish her post-secondary dreams without the help of the program.

“If it weren’t for Direct Funding, my education would have stopped after high school,” said Hibaq Abdi, a university student in London, Ont., who has been a Direct Funding participant since 2007 and is working on completing a degree in social work. “My life would have been chosen for me.”

Leisa DeBono, manager of the Direct Funding Program, noted that in the nearly 20 years since its inception the program has served more than 1,100 people. While the wait for an interview used to be off-putting to some potential applicants, it’s now been shortened to just over two years, with the possibility of becoming even shorter with the funding increase.

“With almost 400 people on the waiting list, we routinely hear from people in difficult situations who are in desperate need,” said Ms. DeBono. “I think one of the hardest positions in our program is that of our intake co-ordinator, who has had to tell people over and over that we are doing our best but that the program is full.  So, you can imagine our absolute joy at hearing about the expansion funding.”

NOTE TO MEDIA: The Direct Funding Program has 700 participants across the province; please ask about local participants in your area who would be willing to be interviewed about the program.


•       Eligibility for the Direct Funding Program:

•       Frequently asked questions about the Direct Funding Program

•       Testimonials about the Direct Funding Program


For media inquires:

Katie Paialunga

Executive Director

Ottawa Independent Living Resource Center

613-236-2558 x223

For general inquiries:

Sasha Gilchrist

Ottawa Independent Living Resource Center

613-236-2558 x227