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Espanola – Scabs hired by Community Living Espanola are not providing an adequate level of care, and programs and supports for people with developmental disabilities are being compromised, said parents and family members with loved ones receiving services from the agency at a media conference in Espanola today.

The parents joined Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario president Sid Ryan, to tell heartfelt stories about the level and quality of services their child is receiving since scab labour was hired by the agency to replace striking front line staff.

One parent said his son is exhibiting “odd behaviors,” and his personal hygiene requirements and socialization needs are not being met. Other parents have indicated that their children do not want to return to their group homes, and are asking for their “regular worker”. Group home clients have not attended day programs for five weeks during the seven-week strike. Independent living clients are not receiving adequate support in their everyday lives, which include bill payments, household needs and weekly groceries.

Despite repeated attempts by some parents to contact the agency administration about the deterioration of services, little has been done to address the inadequate level of care. One parent said he has personally gone to the administration office “only to be turned away by security guards. The agency staff have taken good care of my son and I want this strike to end.”

The poor quality of services and level of care clients are receiving by scabs is one of the key reasons agency front line staff, who are members of CUPE 2462, want to reach a settlement and end the strike, said Ryan. He stressed that, throughout the strike, CUPE negotiators have asked the agency bargaining team to return to the bargaining table and reach a fair settlement.

But the agency negotiators have refused to resume real negotiations that would end this dispute. These are dedicated workers who are out on strike because they want to make the services this agency provides better, and they want a modest wage increase.

This administration should put the needs of the clients they provide support to first, and settle the strike. It’s the right thing to do,” said Ryan.

Scheduling and staff recruitment are among the outstanding issues in the strike. Both impact on the quality of client services. Workers are often forced to work three shifts with only a six-hour break because the agency is unable to keep pace with hiring new, qualified staff. This compromises the quality of services to people with developmental disabilities and their families, and hurts workers dealing with heavy workloads.

For more information, please contact:

Sid Ryan President, CUPE Ontario (416) 209-0066
Michelle Loiselle CUPE National Representative (705) 561-9076
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications(416) 578-8774