TORONTO, Ont. — Millions of infrastructure dollars announced recently for developmental services agencies will go to waste unless the McGuinty government also invests in the staff who support persons with disabilities, says CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan.
“Workers, their employers, the people they support and their families have been speaking with one voice to tell the provincial Liberals that we have a staff recruitment and retention problem in developmental services,” Ryan said. “Years of underfunding are taking their toll. A renovated building isn’t going to do much good if the people aren’t there to staff it.”
Liberal MPPs have been making announcements in their ridings in recent weeks about monies the government is spending to renovate and expand program sites. But, with more than 90 collective agreements expiring this year in the developmental services sector, the province must make a much larger investment in front line workers, Ryan said.
“Dalton McGuinty has a chance to put this right in the next provincial budget,” said Ryan, whose union represents about 7,000 developmental services workers across the province. “On March 22, we will be going over the provincial budget papers with a fine-toothed comb to see if he and Finance Minister Greg Sorbara have responded to the thousands of postcards, emails and phone calls that have been going to them from families and workers.”
A study conducted six years ago by KPMG on behalf of community living agencies showed that workers in developmental services earn 25% to 30% less than people doing similar work in hospitals, schools and other institutions. “If anything, the situation has gotten worse,” Ryan said.
Recruiting and keeping developmental services workers has become increasingly difficult and some community colleges have even considered closing support worker diploma programs because of low enrolment.
For more information, contact:Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario; 416-209-0066; Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, 647-225-3685