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Privatization is creeping into Ontario’s social services behind the mask of “choice.”

Direct funding to individuals in children’s mental health and developmental services threatens to undermine the established community agency structure, to water down the quality of services and supports and open the door for private brokers “helping” parents burdened with all the responsibility of being an employer.

The threat is immediate in the developmental services sector where proposed provincial legislation – Bill 77 – would entrench direct funding and wait lists for services. It specifically allows for the introduction of private brokers who would supply support workers to families receiving direct funding.

Our worst fear is that we will see in developmental services a re-creation of all the problems currently plaguing home care in Ontario,” CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan told legislative committee hearings on the bill in August. “Costs have increased as for-profit providers have usurped non-profit community-based providers under a competitive bidding system in which agencies are forced to compete for scarce funding dollars.”

And, Bill 77 leaves private brokers out of the stringent accountability measures that would be applied to community-based, not-for-profit agencies.

As the bill heads to third reading this fall, CUPE members working in developmental services will continue to promote their vision of a properly funded public system where all people with disabilities have the right to access the supports they need.