Toronto Across Ontario, developmental service staff, who provide residential and vocational support to people with intellectual disabilities, are shouldering the burden of years of provincial underfunding through low wages and heavy workloads, said Sid Ryan, the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) at Queens Park media conference today.
In last weeks budget, the McGuinty Liberals did not address the chronic underfunding of the sector that impacts greatly on the quality of service for the province’s most vulnerable people.
Serious provincial funding gaps are putting programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities in jeopardy, and both those receiving program support and front line workers are paying the price.
In opposition, the Liberals agreed the sector was underfunded and that programs for people with developmental disabilities should be a priority. Now they are holding the purse strings, but there is no new funding for services. They are betraying people who need and deserve help most to integrate fully in our communities, added Ryan.
The government is currently reviewing the delivery of developmental services; however, neither the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) nor the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which collectively represent nearly 12,000 front line workers in the sector, have been consulted. OPSEU president Leah Casselman joined Ryan at the media conference.
An employer-commissioned study found that staff in the sector are underpaid and overworked. This results in high staff turnover rates, ultimately compromising the quality of care.
If the Liberals were serious about investing in people as the budget claims they would put adequate funding in this sector for improved staff training and better salaries that would pay off in quality supports and real integration for people with developmental disabilities, said Ryan.
Many community living agencies are in deficit. Scrambling to provide services on flatlined budgets, agencies are hiring more casual staff with less training and qualifications, and the staff- to-client ratios keep increasing.
There is a de-skilling of the workforce thats directly related to provincial underfunding. This is happening as the sector faces the increased challenges of ageing clients and the closure of the provinces last three institutions for the developmentally delayed. Inadequate funding and the real needs of the sector are on a collision course, said Ryan.
For more information, please contact:
Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario - (416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774