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May 14, 2001

TORONTO May 15 is Associations for Community Living Day in Ontario. Unfortunately, our strike in Fort Frances is the sorry evidence of the problems besetting the entire area of caring for young people and adults with developmental and behavioural problems in Ontario, says Fort Frances CUPE Local 65 president, Gwen Miller.

We know from the governments own KPMG study that wages and benefits for workers who care for special needs adults and young people are seriously out of line with other social services. Our strike is about wages and pensions and we are no exception to others in this field.

Jackie Lancaster, an ACL worker who is also president of Oshawas CUPE Local 2936, says that, while it is wonderful that Ontario is taking May 15 to recognize ACLs and the people who need them, the fact is that the issue of unfair wages is undermining services in the entire sector.

Every parent of a child who needs life-long support because of a mental or emotional condition dreads the day when he or she will no longer be able to advocate for his or her child. With good reason, these parents are alarmed by the statistics which show a deterioration in care for them.

Jim Beattie, also an ACL worker and president of CUPE Hamilton Local 3943, says that there is an exceptionally high rate of turnover in this area. Our members are very dedicated to their clients, and have specialized training to care for them.

Unfortunately, they are finding that they cannot afford to continue in this area of work. Their salaries are 20 percent below what others in social and educational support services can earn. Dedication is okay, but you have to be able to earn a living wage if you are going to be an effective worker.

Our statistics are drawn from a study performed for employers by KPMG. When KPMG delivered their report in January of 2000, they noted that staff turnover in the year prior to the study was 14.3 per cent. The largest group, 50.8 per cent, reported salary as a reason for resigning.

CUPE is joining with parents of young people and adults who support the need for qualified, experienced personnel in this area.

NOTE: CUPE members in this area are available throughout Ontario for media calls.

CityName Title Telephone
Fort Frances Gwen Miller President, Local 65 807 274-1477 (Home)
Ottawa Steve Sanderson President, Local 1521 613 225- 6884
Toronto Fred Hahn President, Local 2191 416 979-9594
Port Colbourne Jacqueline Audit President, Local 2276 905 835-2524
Sudbury Shailagh Hart President, Local 2599 705 522-5845
Almonte Dan Pike President, Local 2862 613 256-7987
Kingston Trevor Hammond Vice-president, Local 2635 613 542-9088
Oshawa Jackie Lancaster President, Local 2936 416 292-3999
Kingsville Evelyn Piggot-Washington President, Local 3137 519 733-4194
Hamilton Jim Beattie President, Local 3943 905 578-1103

For further information, please contact: Ian Thompson, CUPE National Representative 416-292-3999