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Workers from Community Living Sarnia, members of CUPE 4370, travelled to London today to tell provincial politicians that new proposed legislation could mean longer waiting lists and uncertain services for individuals with a developmental disability and their families.

Bill 77 is supposed to herald a new era of community living in Ontario, but it fails to guarantee supports and services for adults with a developmental disability,” Brian Biggers, president of CUPE 4370, told the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Social Policy.  “Our worst fear is that we will see all the problems currently plaguing home care in Ontario re-created in developmental services.”

The committee is holding public hearings into the bill this week.

Instead of adequately funding the existing, decades-old, community-based infrastructure, the province wants to entrench waiting lists in legislation and divert money to central application centres, creating another level of bureaucracy whose primary function is to determine eligibility, prioritize individual needs and manage those waiting lists.”

The legislation would also allow private, for-profit brokers to find support workers for individuals and families who opt for direct funding, taking on the role of employer but not subject to the same accountability measures as community-based service agencies.

Recruitment and retention of workers in this sector are huge problems that are not addressed by Bill 77,” said Biggers.  “High staff turnover means the consistency that supported individuals need simply disappears.  That is a threat to their well-being and development.”

CUPE’s recommendations to the standing committee include:

1. Deleting any reference in the bill to waiting lists and mandating the provision of services and supports for any individual deemed eligible
2. Requiring the use a common assessment tool to determine eligibility in order to ensure consistency across the province
3. Ensuring that any public monies go only to not-for-profit service providers.