Hon. Jim Munson:
I am glad Senator Harder brought up Ready, Willing and Able because in that Pay Now or Pay Later report part of the emphasis was on jobs — jobs for those on the spectrum who need to be employed. In fact, one of the persons in that report did say if you pay now, look at the return on the investment. You have people who are in the workforce.
The previous government followed up on our report with Ready, Willing and Able. As you may know, Ready, Willing and Able is a government funding program that provides individualized assistance for becoming a more inclusive employer, identification of candidates, disability awareness, connections to community agencies that provide employment services and supports and on-the-job support to employees with an intellectual disability or ASD.
It has come to my attention — and the senator just talked about the program that is in place and that the current government is funding — that the program will cease as of January 31, 2018. So I am hopeful that the discussions under way with the federal government will move on beyond the proposed three-year extension. Without this program, 1,457 employment outcomes achieved to the end of September 2017 would never have materialized.
Will the government renew the funding for this essential program that enables individuals with intellectual disabilities to thrive as members of our workforce? Will we pay now or pay later?
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for his question and for his and other senators’ work in this area. I would be happy to take his request for ongoing funding to the minister.
I would also, in that context, reference the request of the Honourable Senator Housakos so that there can be a direct conversation on this matter.