Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

May 02, 2007 11:43 ET

OPSEU: Thousands Disappointed by Funding Announcement for People With Developmental Disabilities

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - May 2, 2007) - For thousands of workers who provide support to people with developmental disabilities in more than 370 community agencies across Ontario today's funding announcement came as a big disappointment.

"We've been working very hard with the families of the people we support and the agencies we work for to get the government to understand the severity of the funding crisis in developmental services," said Sue Walker, a support worker and chair of OPSEU's developmental services sector. "Workers are leaving this field in droves because the wages make it impossible to make ends meet. The Ministry had a chance to address this issue and they've failed."

Community based developmental service workers make 25 to 30 percent less than equivalent positions in sectors such as health, education or paid by municipalities. The average wage is less than $35,000 a year for those working full-time. About two thirds of the people working in the field are forced to work part-time due to funding shortfalls.

Enough is enough, according to Smokey Thomas, newly elected president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"Our members love the work they do caring for people with developmental disabilities - they find it very rewarding," Thomas said. "The problem is a rewarding job alone doesn't pay the bills and people are being forced to leave the work that is so important to them and the people they care for. A two percent wage increase in this round of bargaining just won't come close to cutting it."

OPSEU has 34 bargaining units at the table this year, 28 will be in a strike position by the end of the month.

"We're going to keep working hard with our employers to try and reach deals that will keep the qualified people we need in the field," said Sue Walker. "I really hope we can reach a deal that avoids a province-wide service disruption."

Contact Information

  • OPSEU Communications
    Sarah Jordison
    (416) 453-8049
    Website: www.opseu.org