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Northern Indigenous group to deliver disability support for its members

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North Shore Tribal Council is set to begin administering the Ontario Disability Support Program to communities in the Robinson-Huron Treaty area.

The move comes 16 years after the council informed the province that it wanted to administer social services to its members.

The council’s social services arm, Niigaaniin Services, already delivers Ontario Works to its members. Allan Moffat, CEO of the Tribal Council, said as it moves toward full devolution of services from the Crown, it will begin delivering ODSP as of Jan. 31.

“We’re going to be acting much the same way we are under our OW agreement, through the 1965 welfare agreement with the Province of Ontario, and we’re going to be expecting reimbursement,” said Moffat.

The move will eliminate the need for ODSP recipients to travel to Sault Ste. Marie or Sudbury.

Elizabeth Richer, director of Niigaaniin Services, said around 98 per cent of the more than 300 members on ODSP have opted to close their file with the province in favour of receiving services from Niigaaniin.

Serpent River First Nation Chief Brent Bissaillion, who is also the chair of the Tribal Council, said the move is a natural progression.

“This is just a continuation and movement of those services to be more comprehensive, fuller, and completing, really, the complete package of social services within our communities,” Bissaillion said.

“We are going to look after our own people,” said Batchewana Firsts Nation Chief Dean Sayers.

“And we expect Ontario and Canada to be more reflective of what they’ve inherited as far as the obligation to us.”

“It’s just natural as a service provider that we would have this ability and the capacity and the resources to deliver the program to our vulnerable citizens in our community,” said Sagamok Anishnawbek Chief Angus Toulouse.

Council leadership is not anticipating any roadblocks with the endeavour, even though there is no formal agreement between the council and the province on administration of ODSP.

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services was not immediately available for comment.

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