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Sarnia Front line staff with Sarnia Community Living, who reached a tentative settlement and averted a strike at the 11th hour this weekend, say they can now focus on securing increased provincial funding and strengthening developmental services.

Sarnia Community Living staff, who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4370, will vote on the tentative settlement on Wednesday. Although the conflict with the employer is over, the commitment to enhance services for people with developmental disabilities and their families has intensified over the last month, says CUPE 4370 president Brian Biggers.

In their effort to get a new contract and avert a strike, CUPE 4370 members highlighted that chronic provincial underfunding has led to diminished services for people with developmental disabilities, long waiting lists, understaffing, heavy workloads, and low wages in the sector.

Now that bargaining is over, Im sure both our employer and the provincial government would like us to quietly return to work and say no more about how underfunding is hurting clients and workers. Well, that isnt going to happen. Weve been energized and politicized through our difficult negotiations.

The provincial government and, in particular, our MPP, are being put on notice that weve only just begun to advocate for increased funding and better quality programs for the vulnerable people we support, says Biggers.

Throughout negotiations, CUPE 4370 reached out to the Sarnia community, to the local media, and to parents and families with loved ones receiving care and support from the agency, to raise awareness of how provincial underfunding adversely impacts developmental services.

We now have a coalition with parents and families and we will be working to lobby the province to enhance services. Also, the broader community and the media have a better idea of what the community living sector does and how important the services we provide are so that individuals with developmental disabilities can live fully in our neighbourhoods. These are all great first steps, says Biggers.

Working with parents and families, CUPE 4370 is now organizing a community event to celebrate Community Living Day scheduled for May 18.


For more information, please contact:
Brian Biggers, President, CUPE 4370 - (519) 333-7109
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774