Sudbury Programs and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families in Sudbury are woefully underfunded, and both community living workers and people with developmental disabilities are paying the price, say front line counsellors with Sudbury Developmental Services.
Sudbury Developmental Services provides residential and vocational support for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Chronic provincial underfunding for services has led to long waiting lists, understaffing, heavy workloads, low wages and high staff turnover rates in the sector. A study commissioned by community living employers across Ontario shows that workers in this field earn 25 per cent less than comparable social service staff.
In an effort to provide adequate services for people with developmental disabilities, many community living agencies across Ontario funded programs with the hope that additional provincial funding was forthcoming. But in 2004, the Liberals increased funding for developmental services by only .5 per cent. This provincial underfunding has left many agencies including Sudbury Developmental Services in deficit.
Now in contract negotiations with front line staff who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2599, the agency is attempting to extract concessions from workers to recoup the money spent on expanded programs but that the agency did not receive provincial funding for.
Workers shouldnt be facing concessions and shouldering the provincial funding gaps and the decision by the agency administration to fund programs they did not have financial resources for.
Its clear to us, the agency does not want to resolve our outstanding issues through a constructive negotiations process even though the employers own study shows low wages are resulting in diminished services to clients and worker burnout, says CUPE 2599 president Shailagh Hart, whose members are in a legal strike position by mid-May.
CUPE 2599 will be holding a media conference on Tuesday, May 3, 2005 to highlight how provincial underfunding adversely impacts on both clients and workers.
For more information, please contact:
Shailagh Hart, President, CUPE 2599 - (705) 522-5845
Anna Sweet, CUPE National Representative - (705) 674-7557
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774