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Province, developmental service employers in southwest Ontario must rethink options

Sep 23, 2011 01:55 PM
 

Province, developmental service employers in southwest Ontario must rethink options to stabilize supports and avoid service disruptions.

Front line staff at southwest Ontario agencies,supporting people with a developmental disability, say the province and developmental services (DS) sector employers are short-changing individuals needing community-based supports by under-resourcing the sector and refusing to resolve issues affecting service quality. 

Developmental services are drastically underfunded, with waitlists prohibiting access to core services for thousands of our most vulnerable citizens. Across the province, the waitlist for residential supports in the community has risen to 12,000. 

For the last few years, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents about 8,000 developmental service workers across Ontario has attempted to work with government and employer representatives to strengthen services and to create labour stability in the volatile sector. 

Hundreds of staff employed by community-based agencies in the southwest Ontario area (including those in Windsor, Essex and Sarnia-Lambton) supporting individuals with a developmental disability and their families are CUPE members. 

Ontario-wide, there are currently 58 collective agreements being negotiated by CUPE in developmental services. In some cases, negotiations are at a critical juncture in bargaining and the “potential for service disruption is very real. In our opinion, employers have had ample opportunity to push the province for improved funding in order to enhance supports and achieve settlements,” says Fred Hahn CUPE’s Ontario president. 

In discussions with government and employers, CUPE has focused on finding ways to resolve systemic issues affecting the quality of supports and services, such as wait lists, high staff turnover rates, and improved safety for all those in the workplace including those receiving supports. 

“For us the quality of services is linked to the working conditions of front line staff who provide direct supports and is a priority for us,” said Hahn. “Now is the time for the province to make services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families a priority too. For a modest influx of new funding, the province could make a huge difference in betteringthe lives of so many people.This means providing betterfunding resources to improve services and supports, and pushing employers to settle contracts.” 
 

For more information, please contact: 

Fred Hahn
President, CUPE Ontario
(416) 540-3979

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications 
(416) 559-9300