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Sarnia By stalling contract negotiations and fighting front line workers, who are advocating for improved provincial funding for supports for people with developmental disabilities, the administrators at Community Living SarniaLambton are hindering the interests of clients and their families.

Our agency director admits provincial funding for programs and supports for the developmentally delayed are grossly underfunded, and that community living workers are underpaid for the valuable work we do. But, instead of doing the right thing and joining us (front line staff) in advocating for adequate provincial funding for quality programs and support, our agency administration is choosing to fight us at the bargaining table.

This is not helpful to the clients and families we provide support to. The real fight is with the province. Our agency knows this. They also know that front line workers should not be shouldering the burdens caused by provincial funding gaps, through low wages and overwork, says Cyndi Brumaroff, a residential counselor with Community Living SarniaLambton. The agency provides residential and vocational support for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

The Canadian Union of Public of Employees (CUPE), which represents the SarniaLambton community living workers (CUPE 4370), is urging the Ontario Liberal government to increase funding for the sector in this coming provincial budget. In 2004, the Liberals only increased funding for community living agencies by .5 per cent.

An employer study found that community living workers are underpaid, and that increasing their wages and providing better training for them, will stem the high staff turnover rate which will ultimately improve the quality of community-based services provided those with developmental disabilities and their families.

Our agency administration should re-think their hard-line strategy at the bargaining table that is now on course for conflict. Front line workers are the services our agency provides. We want to enhance services, not shut them down, and our agency should share our goal of reaching a negotiated settlement, says Brumaroff.

Last week, CUPE 4370 members voted 92 per cent to support strike action should negotiations falter.


For more information, please contact:
Brian Biggers, President, CUPE 4370 - (519) 333-7109
Cyndi Brumaroff, Vice-President, CUPE 4370 - (519) 330-3757
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications - (416) 578-8774