Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) Proposals Re: Expansion and Renewal of the Social Development Partnership Fund

June 2008


The Blue Ribbon Panel Grants and Contribution Programs Report "From Red Tape to Clear Results" commented and recommended that:

"One of the most striking conclusions to emerge from the work of the panel was the reminder of just how important federal grants and contributions are to Canadians. Federal grant and contribution programs support investments in research and productivity by businesses, individuals and institutions in every part of Canada; they also support the work of literally thousands of community non-profit organizations across the country that serve the needs of communities large and small. They make it possible for Canadians to help themselves in ways that are more efficient and more effective than governments could ever hope to achieve through direct programming."

"Most organizations that are recipients of federal grant and contribution funds ought to be understood as partners in the achievement of a public purpose."

"The community non-profit sector plays a vital role in Canadian civil society, a role upon which governments at all levels have come to depend."

"Federal grant and contribution programs are essential to building a healthy society and a competitive economy."

Recommendation Themes of the Blue Ribbon Panel supported:

  • "multi year funding agreements"
  • "core funding as a cost effective supplement to project specific funding"
  • "development of a risk management approach"
  • "less complex application and reporting procedures"
  • "a simplified application, reporting and auditing process, predictable funding, and speedy decisions would address many of the sector's concerns."

History of Support to Supporting the Disability Community

Since 1979 the Government of Canada has recognized and supported, through one avenue or another, the input of the disability community in national policy dialogues. Since that point in time the Government of Canada has always supported the representative voice of persons with disabilities through core operational funding, project grants, allocations for specific consultations, research, and innovations in service delivery.

The memorandum to Cabinet in 1979 named COPOH, now CCD, and its provincial member groups as the bodies to be supported. Through this initiative government supported for the first time the consumer voice of Canadians with disabilities. At that time cross disability was one of the criteria for funding support.

From that time forward the Government of Canada has recognized the value added by the participation of Canadians with disabilities and their organizations in the policy debates and service systems that directly impact them. The funding support has been done through a variety of mechanisms:

  • National Welfare Grants,
  • National Strategy for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities,
  • Demonstration Funding for Independent Living,
  • Disabled Persons Participation Program,
  • Community Inclusion,
  • Opportunities Fund,
  • Social Development Partnership Program Disability Component.

Note: At times others resources have been provided through other departments of Government either for disability specific initiatives or for disability initiatives that are part of a larger strategy. Ex. Literacy, Homelessness, HIV/AIDS, etc.

Funding support at times has taken a different focus but it has for almost 30 years provided base support to ensure the voice of persons with disabilities is heard in public policy debates.

Probably the largest funding initiative created in the past was the National Strategy For the Integration of Persons with Disabilities which was created by the Mulroney government in the mid 1980's. This initiative, while it had it limitations, did support the disability community and require federal departments to develop their own plans for addressing disability issues. It was created at a time when the Charter equality guarantees were just coming into effect and Government was committed to trying to bring its policies and programs in line with the Charter guarantee of "equal protection and benefit of the law".

Why has support been so long standing?

  1. Governments since 1979 have recognized that without the active input and participation of people with disabilities in policy development, programs and services designed to assist people with disabilities will not be as effective.
  2. The disability community has always worked collaboratively and incrementally with government to find progressive solutions for removing barriers to participation and advancing the status of Canadians with disabilities.
  3. Disability does not discriminate. At some point in time almost every Canadian will benefit from well designed disability support services. Building An Inclusive and Accessible Canada is in the interest of all Canadians.
  4. Support of Canadians with disabilities in policy development and in design of service models that promote independence and autonomy are seen as being in the public interest and as essential to ensuring the human rights of persons with disabilities.

In 1995 the Government of Canada decided that they would no longer fund the disability community because they saw disability as a provincial responsibility. The response from disability organizations resulted in the creation of the Federal Task Force on Disability led by Andy Scott MP. The Task Force report recommended the following and a new funding program, SDPP, was created.

"We recommend...

17. The Government of Canada should continue to support national organizations of people with disabilities in recognition of the extraordinary demands that participation and advocacy place on these organizations, which are least powerful and able to sustain this demand to begin with. This commitment should included, but not be restricted to, providing assured core funding, with a base amount of $5 million, to sustain national organizations as a recognition of the additional disadvantage of people with disabilities in having their voice heard at the federal level. Equal Citizenship for Canadians with Disabilities: The Will To Act, Federal Task Force on Disability Issues, 1996.

Framework For Renewal of Social Development Partnership Program (SDPP)

Components of a New Funding Program

The Social Development Partnership Program (SDPP) must be renewed and expanded. The first principle of any renewal is that no organization should be worse off. A new program with expanded resources should address the following:

1. Program Objective and Outcomes

SDPP Disability Component Objective: To support innovative initiatives to Build An Inclusive and Accessible Canada through the removal of barriers and promotion of the full and equal participation in society of Canadians with disabilities. Initiatives may include; policy reform proposals, research, promotion of best practices and new service delivery models, capacity building, and knowledge sharing and dissemination. The program seeks to support Canadians with disabilities and their organizations to share knowledge/learning and promote initiatives and innovations that will improve the status of Canadians with disabilities.

SDPP Program Outcomes: Initiatives supported must have outcomes that either address specific federal responsibilities or have national significance and relate to the broad objective of ensuring equal participation and citizenship of Canadians with disabilities. Outcomes may include policy reform proposals, development of new service delivery options, research that promotes knowledge and understanding of how barriers may be removed and the status of Canadians with disabilities enhanced.

Eligibility: In order to be eligible for funding under a revitalized and expanded SDPP Disability Program organizations must:

  • be non-profit.
  • be legally incorporated.
  • have a mandate and primary activities that promote and support the full citizenship of people with disabilities.
  • have a purpose focusing on the public good of Building an Inclusive and Accessible Canada. An organization cannot solely focus on providing a service to its members, but must also work towards advancing broader policy objectives relating to Canadians with disabilities.
  • be controlled by persons with disabilities and/or supported and working in partnership with persons with disabilities or their families.
  • be national or addressing issues of national importance.
  • be membership based and in regular dialogue with their members.
  • be financially and administratively sound.
  • publish annual reports including financial statements and activities.
  • be democratic in their constitution and accountable to their members.

2. Funding Components:

Core Operational Funding: Should be provided to national organizations of persons with disabilities. Core Funding should be provided to organizations who address one or all of the following criteria:

  • Provide policy advice to government on key issues of national importance to persons with disabilities.
  • Conduct participatory nationally relevant community based research on issues of key importance to persons with disabilities.
  • Provide or promote new models of service delivery or share information on best practices that empower and promote community/independent living philosophies.
  • Build the capacity and voice of a specific sector of the disability community and contribute to improving the status of Canadians with disabilities.

Project Funding: Should be available for disability organizations or partnerships where the disability community is clearly leading the initiative. Project funding should address areas of federal jurisdiction or have national significance.

Grants/Contributions/Risk Assessment: Any analysis to determine eligibility for funding should also include a risk assessment analysis related to organizational capacity and financial accountability. Organizations with a long term proven democratic track record on addressing disability issues and with proven accountability and transparency should be provided with grant funding. Newer organizations with a lesser track record or receiving a significant increase in funding should first be provided support through a contribution agreement.

Multi-Year Agreements: A renewed program should, as it has in the past, provide for 3 year funding agreements for operational funding and 2 year agreements for project funding.

Consumer Input Into Proposal Reviews: The department should consider a mechanism for allowing consumer input into a review of proposals.

Gender Analysis: A gender analysis should be made a central component of proposal analysis.

Reporting:The level of reporting detail should relate to the level of funding. Larger initiatives should be held to higher standards of reporting and audit than small projects. Reporting detail should also be based upon the risk assessment analysis.

Accommodation: Recognizing that appropriate accommodation is critical to ensuring equality of opportunity, the funding program must ensure that necessary accommodation costs are funded so that organizations of persons with disabilities are able to conduct their business in a fully inclusive and accessible manner.

Annual Announcement of Funding: A renewed program should publish online an annotated listing of approved applications for funding. This promotes greater transparency, accountability and collaboration.

Funding Level: SDPP funding has not been increased for almost a decade. Any new program would need a significant increase in resources. It is also suggested that funding allocations be indexed. Again no organization should be worse off than their present funding allocation.