Frontline developmental service workers have launched a campaign calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to keep their government’s funding promise to persons with developmental disabilities.
“In their 2007 budget, the Liberal government committed four years of increased funding to developmental services,” said Fred Hahn, secretary-treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “With McGuinty warning that not all commitments may be kept, we want him to know that this is not the time to be hitting some of the most vulnerable members of our community with another setback.”
Hard times are nothing new to thousands of individuals with a developmental disability and their families, said Hahn. They welcomed the four-year funding commitment after decades of underfunding that saw thousands of people lingering on waiting lists for support while others experienced the stress and setbacks that come with high staff turnover.
“The issues of long waiting lists and staff recruitment and retention are just beginning to be addressed with the new funding,” he said. “Consistent, quality supports mean that individuals and their families are able to expand the boundaries of their abilities, to live active, visible lives – and even work – in our communities.”
The new funding also spurred the Ministry of Community and Social Services and community living associations (ACLs) to develop new human resources strategies for the sector.
“These new directions, intended to standardize education, training and qualifications of workers, will not work if there is any move to renege on the government’s funding commitment,” Hahn said. “If anything, the province needs to be working now on how it will continue to provide adequate support for developmental services beyond 2011 to ensure consistent, quality supports for individuals and their families.”
With 50 CUPE ACL bargaining units negotiating new collective agreements this year, both employers and workers need assurances that the promised funding will continue, he said.
“We want to be able to focus on getting settlements and strengthening our sector, not on having protracted fights at the bargaining table,” Hahn said.