TORONTO – Today’s provincial Liberal government announcement committing $41 million to enhance specialized services for adults with developmental disabilities will do little to address years of underfunding to the sector, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
Much of the funding is earmarked for new networks of specialists that will deal with the high needs of individuals leaving the three remaining provincial institutions, which are due to close in 2009.
However, the reality is that the existing community living system is in crisis and already unable to meet the needs of persons with developmental disabilities currently receiving services and support, said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. Underfunding has created a patchwork of support services, long waiting lists for programs, and low wages for developmental service staff.
The government also announced 390 new residential spaces across Ontario. In Toronto alone, there are more than 2,200 families on the waiting list for support services. Across Ontario, the waiting list for services tops 10,000 families.
“To say that the money announced today is inadequate is an understatement. The funding is less than a drop in the bucket, ” said Ryan.
A province-wide employer-commissioned study found that community living workers are paid 25% less than other social service workers. As a result, agencies have trouble attracting and retaining qualified staff. Today’s announcement gives only $300,000 to attracting new specialized staff. There appears to be no money to help agencies retain and attract trained staff to meet the immediate needs of individuals currently receiving support.
“Clearly this government has again ignored the real needs of people with developmental disabilities, their families, and the frontline staff who provide quality support,” said Ryan.
Sid Ryan President, CUPE Ontario (416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774COPE491/EW –