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OTTAWA – The union representing 80 behavioural counsellors, team leaders and therapists at Ottawa Valley Autistic Homes learned late yesterday their agency will be closing September 30th.

“They’re closing the place – and they haven’t got a plan to deal with residents,” says CUPE national representative Mert McDonald. “Autistic people need stability and routine, and this will disrupt their lives and cause incredible stress and hardship for residents.”

The workers provide seven day a week, 24-hour care in five different group homes in the Ottawa area. Residents receive help with daily living, including eating, toileting, personal hygiene, as well as counselling, therapy, and other support services.

“Workers are being treated without respect yet again,” says CUPE Local 2862 president Dan Pike. “Six years ago this employer locked us out for seven months, looking for concessions and cutbacks – now it looks like we’re being locked out for good.” The board of directors resigned en masse April 15th. The Ontario ministry of Community, Family and Children’s services appointed an interim board, including the former board president who presided over the 1996 lockout.

“It is clear that disabled persons are not the Ontario government’s highest priority,” says McDonald. “Ottawa Valley Autistic Homes is the only Ottawa area agency specialized in the care of autistic adults. Where will these people go and what kind of care will they receive?” The Ontario ministry of Community, Family and Children’s services is the principal funder of the agency. The homes have operated with deficit budgets for the past four years.

“While they have no money to invest in care at the residences, the new board has hired 15 management consultants to oversee the dismantling of the homes and added temporary workers,” says Pike. “There’s little information for current workers who are losing their jobs beyond what the employer calls career orientation seminars. We’re getting short shrift, but the residents are losing everything – we won’t give up without a fight.”


For further information, please contact:
Mert McDonald, CUPE National Representative
Dan Pike, President CUPE Local 2862
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications Rep.