Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

March 04, 2008 09:30 ET

Information Picket Lines go up Across Ontario Today to Protest Understaffing Crisis in ODSP

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 4, 2008) - Information picket lines will go up outside Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) offices across Ontario today to protest a crisis in understaffing that is seriously eroding the delivery of public services to 325,000 Ontarians who receive income support.

One hour information pickets are scheduled to form at 12:00 noon at more than 40 ODSP offices in Ontario.

"The ODSP delivery system is broken and the government is unwilling to fix it," said Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. OPSEU represents more than 1,200 ODSP workers, who are responsible for the administration and delivery of $2.6 billion in benefits to disabled Ontarians living beneath the poverty line.

"Study after study has made clear the obvious: the health of ODSP workers is suffering - and the clients they serve are being treated like second class citizens - because the government refuses to ease the caseload demands that our members are expected to carry."

ODSP income support specialists have a caseload ratio for 530 benefit claims for every one staff worker. By contrast, similar workers in British Columbia have a caseload ratio of about 300:1. In Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the rate is lower than 200:1.

In a study funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and released last July, Wayne Lewchuk of the labour studies department of McMaster University, said ODSP frontline workers are suffering from steep levels of stress, tension, ill health and high absenteeism caused primarily by the high level of caseloads.

Thomas said the McGuinty government has pledged to reduce poverty rates in Ontario by 25 per cent over the next 5 years.

"The government can demonstrate its commitment to fight poverty by starting with a level of public service that those living in poverty are entitled to."

For background information on the Day of Action, including the addresses for ODSP information pickets, please visit:

http://www.opseu.org/ops/ministry/odsp/odspindex.htm

Contact Information

  • OPSEU Communications & Campaigns
    Greg Hamara
    Cell (647) 238-9933