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On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, CUPE calls for investment in Ontario’s community living services for people with developmental disabilities

TORONTO, ON – On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3), members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario are calling on the provincial government to deliver adequate funding for publicly delivered community living services to address the sector’s perennial problems of waitlists and underfunded developmental services and supports.

As part of their appeal, members of CUPE Ontario’s Developmental Service Sector Coordinating Committee (DSSCC) will meet with the Hon. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services. Among the topics under discussion will be wait lists for residential supports, especially for an ageing population of adults with developmental disabilities; and the impact on services and workers of a six-year funding freeze for community living agencies.

CUPE representatives will also review with the minister the impact to date of the government’s three-year, $810 million funding injection for developmental services, made in 2014. Over a third of that funding has gone to support privately delivered individualized services, rather than publicly delivered community living services and supports. One of the results is that there are still approximately 12,000 people on the wait lists for residential services.

“The need for residential supports becomes even more acute as the parents of adults with developmental disabilities get older and can no longer care for their children as they once did,” said Joanne Smithers, chair of the DSSCC. “At the same time, many people with developmental disabilities are living longer and have complex health needs that require more intensive support that are best delivered through well-funded public services.”

CUPE members will also use the meeting with the minister to call for a dedicated fund to support pay equity for developmental service workers and encourage more initiatives like the government’s $180 million for wage enhancement grants, which were made out of 2014’s $810 million funding and were designed to stabilize the workforce in the sector.

Speaking in support of workers and individuals with developmental disabilities, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn noted that frozen public-sector budgets have affected community living agencies’ ability to meet the needs of supported individuals and recruit and retain qualified developmental service workers. Hahn, who is himself a social worker from the sector, also observed that the absence of increases to agencies’ base funding from government has meant that some have had to lay off staff, cut programs, sell off residential properties, and struggle to meet pay equity obligations to employees.

“The message that we are delivering on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is that only properly funded, publicly delivered services will protect the dignity of individuals with developmental disabilities and the human right of workers to pay equity,” said Hahn.

For more information, please contact:

Joanne Smithers
Developmental Service Worker and Chair, DSSCC:  519-820-5945

Andrew Hunter
CUPE Social Services Coordinator:  519-496-5314

Mary Unan
CUPE Communications:  647-390-9839

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