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CUPE Ontario has called for the provincial government to review the finances of Community Living Lanark.

On Thursday, CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, asking for an operational review the agency. Members of CUPE Local 1251.02, who provide crucial services to residents at Community Living Lanark, have been on strike for nearly seven weeks in an effort to secure a pension plan readily available to other community living workers across Ontario. Following a day which featured a strong show of support by fellow CUPE members from across the Greater Toronto Area, the employer has agreed to return to the bargaining table.

In 2007, the Community Living Association-Lanark County had access to $1.40 an hour in provincial funds allocated to address recruitment, retention and labour stability issues in the sector, but chose to only access 50 cents of this money. As well, CUPE has conservatively estimated that Community Living Lanark is spending upwards of 5 times its normal operations to pay for scab labour, essentially using taxpayer’s money to prolong a labour dispute.

“For reasons that are unclear to us, Community Living Association-Lanark County chose not to access all the provincial funding for wage increases it is entitled to, at the same time it’s paying 5 times more for scabs to keep skilled CUPE members off the job,” Ryan said. “We have little choice but to ask the McGuinty government to initiate an operational review of the employer, focused on the financial accountability of the agency’s administration.”

The release of the letter comes on the same day striking workers enjoyed a morale boost in the form of a busload of supporters who came in from across the Greater Toronto Area.