General Information

Direct Funding General Information

Question Index

  1. What are "attendant services"?
  2. What is the Direct Funding Program?
  3. Who should apply for DF?
  4. Do I qualify?
  5. How many hours of attendant service are available under DF?
  6. What would my administrative responsibilities be?
  7. What else should I know about Direct Funding?
  8. How do I apply?
  9. What can I expect in an interview?
  10. What happens next?
  11. What if I still have more questions?
  1. What are "attendant services"?

    "Attendant services" refer to physical assistance provided by another person for routine activities of living, such as transferring, showering, dressing or undressing. You would do these for yourself if it were not for your physical disability. The consumer takes responsibility for directing the way in which this assistance is provided.

    Please note: Attendant services do not include services such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation, life-skills teaching, active nursing, socializing, etc. Some of these professional services are provided through Community Care Access Centres (CCACs).

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  2. What is the Direct Funding Program?

    The Direct Funding (DF) Program is administered by the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT), Inc. in partnership with the Ontario Network of Independent Living Centres (ONILC). It is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care through the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network.

    Different people have different needs. DF is intended as an option suited to people with physical disabilities who are willing and able to take on the extra management responsibilities the program demands.

    If you are using attendant services delivered by CCAC, Assisted Living in Supportive Housing/Support Services Living Units (SSLUs) or Attendant Outreach Services, an agency employs attendants and sends them to your apartment or house. Direct Funding is different; on DF you are the employer, taking full responsibility for recruiting, hiring, scheduling and paying your own attendants. You become the employer (or the self-manager), determining how and when your services are provided.

    DF began as a pilot project developed by consumers and the provincial government in 1994. It was so successful that it became a permanent program in July, 1998.

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  3. Who should apply for DF?

    CCACs and other referral sources should consider the following when referring a client to the Direct Funding program:

    • Individuals must be able to self-direct, by which we mean they know their disability and needs, and can instruct their attendants as to how and when they need assistance. They must be able to train and direct their attendants accordingly.
    • In addition to the ability to self-direct, applicants must be able to self-manage. A self-manager is a person in control of his or her own situation and not easily manipulated. A self-manager is a person who knows what services he or she wants and needs, someone with plans - perhaps to move, work or study - or simply a clear desire to take responsibility for improving his or her own services. Self-managers are capable of interviewing, training, hiring and, if necessary, firing attendants, as well as handling the financial and reporting duties of an employer. They are willing to take risks in return for the choice, flexibility and control over their attendant services made possible under DF.
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  4. Do I qualify?

    DF operates within guidelines set by the Ontario government. You can apply if:

    • you are age 16 or older;
    • you are a resident of Ontario;
    • you require attendant services due to a permanent physical disability;
    • you are able to complete the written application on your own initiative and in your own words (you may receive physical assistance to complete the form; however, submissions may not be made by professionals, family members or others on your behalf);
    • you have attendant services requirements that have been stable over a period of at least one year
    • you are able to meet with a selection panel to discuss your needs and determine your eligibility for the program;
    • you are able to schedule attendants;
    • you are able to hire (and fire, if necessary), train, supervise and instruct one or more attendant workers;
    • you are able to meet all the legal requirements associated with being an employer (these will be clearly explained during the interview process);
    • you are capable of managing and accounting for your funding, according to DF guidelines.
    Please note: The employer responsibilities as outlined above may not be assumed by any other person on your behalf. Management by a family member, or via power of attorney, is not permitted under DF guidelines.
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  5. How many hours of attendant service are available under DF?

    The amount of service is individually negotiated. Current guidelines specify that the total service funded for any one individual is a maximum of 7 hours per day (212 hours per month).

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  6. What would my administrative responsibilities be?

    Funds are provided monthly to DF participants. Expenditures must be properly accounted for and are reported quarterly (every three months). Appropriate forms and instructions are provided. Funding is also available for payroll and bookkeeping assistance.

    As a participant in the program, you must be able to:
    • manage money, time and personnel;
    • apply for a business number from Revenue Canada;
    • with the assistance of a bookkeeper, make payroll deductions (Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and income tax), submit quarterly Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) remittances, and prepare year-end payroll documents (T4s);
    • keep all financial records;
    • comply with all provincial legislation, including the Employment Standards Act and Ontario Human Rights Code;
    • follow occupational health and safety standards, and WSIB requirements.

    A legally binding agreement between the participant and CILT sets out the budget, program rules and regulations and specifies allowable expenditures. /

    The DF budget also includes funds to cover a portion of liability insurance related to the attendants who work in peoples' homes.

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  7. What else should I know about Direct Funding?

    As an employer of personal attendants, there are responsibilities involved in managing the funds and the above list can look daunting, but all of these duties are currently carried out by approximately 700 self-managers across the province on a regular basis. If you are thinking of self-management but are concerned about the responsibilities, we would encourage you to talk to your local DF Resource person.

    • Under most circumstances, DF would be your only source of government-funded attendant services.
    • If you are living in Supportive Housing, (or, an SSLU), if found eligible for the program, you may be required to move in order to receive Direct Funding.
    • Under DF, you may not hire or pay immediate family members - including parents, children, siblings, spouses or the equivalent - to provide services, including bookkeeping.
    • You are responsible for training your own attendants. However, if special training is required, training support may be available free of charge in the community. Your local Independent Living Resource Centre (ILRC) has further information about these resources.
    • Funds must be used within Ontario, but are portable, meaning you can move to another community within Ontario or have your personal needs met in various locations, such as at home, in the community or while traveling within the province.
    • If your needs change over time, you can request a change in your budget.
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  8. How do I apply?

    If you are interested in applying to this program, you can download the application guide and the application from this website or you can request these documents from your local ILRC. It is important to read the Direct Funding Application Guide before completing the application, because it lists the full eligibility criteria, explains how to complete a self-assessment of your needs, how to plan your attendant services and how to prepare a budget, all of which will be part of your application.. Direct Funding Resource staff at each of the ILRCS across the province are there to help you, especially if you need physical assistance to complete the application.

    After you have completed your application form and mailed it to the DF Program at CILT, you will get written confirmation that your application was received. The next step is an in-person interview with your local ILRC. The current wait for an interview is approximately two years.

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  9. What can I expect in an interview?

    A selection panel, which will include a consumer of attendant services from your region, a representative from the local ILRC and/or a representative from CILT, will meet with you to review your application and determine your eligibility for the program. A budget will be negotiated at that meeting.

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  10. What happens next?

    If you are eligible for the program, you will be sent a standard agreement to sign. You will also receive a comprehensive resource kit which includes instructions on how to get started. You will receive tips on recruiting, employing and supervising your own attendants, and managing your finances, as well as information on employment and tax laws, employer/employee relations, labour and employment standards, payroll issues and accounting procedures.

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  11. What if I still have more questions?

    We strongly advise applicants to the program to contact the Direct Funding Resource person at their local ILRC. Resource staff can answer questions on eligibility requirements and the application process, provide physical assistance to complete the application and/or connect applicants with participants who can share their experiences. Furthermore, ILRCs provide information and support to new applicants and participants and may also provide orientation sessions, peer networking and advice, and general disability information and referral.

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Direct Funding Satisfaction

Self-manager satisfaction

In an evaluation of Direct Funding, conducted by the Roeher Institute, most self-managers (89% of survey respondents) said they were "very satisfied" with their participation in the Direct Funding Program. In fact, all respondents reported they would recommend DF to others.

Self-managers value the greater flexibility and control over their attendant services made possible by DF. Some have even experienced increased opportunities for paid employment and career advancement as a result of DF.

Attendant satisfaction

The same evaluation found more than 90% of the attendants surveyed reported being "very satisfied" or "generally satisfied" with their jobs. Attendants also indicated that positive spin-offs of the employer/employee relationship (as compared to the more traditional service provider/client relationship) included increased mutual respect and flexibility for both self-manager and attendant, and improved accountability.

Satisfaction with supportive resources

The Direct Funding program provides a range of resources available to self-managers through ILRCs. Self-managers participating in the evaluation highly valued the support provided by ILRCs in addressing issues and supplying practical information.

Need a question answered? Contact your local ILRC for more information.
General Information Booklet (doc) 89KB
General information about the Direct Funding Program
General Information Booklet (pdf) 221KB
General information about the Direct Funding Program
For more information on the Direct Funding program, contact CILT:

Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
365 Bloor Street East Suite 902
Toronto, Ontario
M4W 3L4

Tel: (416) 599-2458
Fax: (416) 599-3555
TTY: (416) 599-5077
Toll Free:1-800-354-9950


"I used to view my disability as being in bed chained down at my shoulders and my hips, waiting for someone to free me. Well, I can honestly say that Direct Funding has come along and done that!"
- 25-year-old man living with parents

Program puts more people with disabilities in control

The Direct Funding Program is being expanded to allow more Ontarians with disabilities to live independently in their homes.

You can read more about this in our News Release.

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