Developmental service workers in Brampton and Caledon call for adequate staffing and government support to address growing staff shortages, and safety concerns, in the region.

“Chronic short staffing, coupled with inadequate funding compromises the quality of life of adults with developmental disabilities. We don’t have the staffing levels needed to ensure the safety of workers, who often work alone in the residences with up to four adults with developmental disabilities,” says Clare Rodney, Unit Vice-President of CUPE 966, representing workers at Brampton Caledon Community Living. “We have several homes with COVID-19 outbreaks and struggle to maintain adequate, safe staffing and service levels.”

CUPE reports that a long history of undervalued work has contributed to a growing staffing crisis in developmental services, which has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We see the staffing crisis impacting virtually all developmental services agencies across the province,” says Salil Arya, President of CUPE 966. “The core of the issue is that agencies can’t keep or attract staff—it’s hard work with low pay that often goes underappreciated and unrecognized.”

Historically, direct support professionals have been underpaid, have little access to full-time employment, living wages, or paid sick days.

“We need the Ford government to recognize the vital work done by direct support professionals and to create a workforce strategy that includes decent wages, access to full-time, stable employment, and paid sick days,” says Arya.

Developmental service workers at Brampton Caledon Community Living provide direct support to adults with developmental disabilities, focusing on fostering wrap-around person-centred supports. Supports include staff-assisted community outings, volunteerism, skill development, socializing, and activities related to personal aspirations.