Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

July 24, 2014 07:19 ET

Workers herald call for mandated developmental services and an end to wait lists, raise concerns over funding

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 24, 2014) - Developmental service workers across Ontario are welcoming a new government report that recommends making supports for people with developmental disabilities a mandated service. At the same time, they are raising concerns over the government's approach to funding services and reducing wait lists.

"Mandating developmental services would be a recognition of how absolutely vital supports are for people with developmental disabilities and their families," said Fred Hahn, a developmental service worker who is president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

The Union, which represents 8,000 workers in the field, also welcomed the report's call to eliminate wait lists for services in the province, where some 23,000 individuals remain without the residential care, respite care and day programs they need. This includes 12,000 families waiting for residential support.

Ontario is taking steps toward that goal in this summer's budget with $810 million in new funding. However, front-line workers are concerned most of that money will go into individualized or "passport" funding rather than to agencies that run community and group home services. As a result, it will do little to reduce the massive wait list for residential support. Instead these funds will continue to place the burden for arranging and managing care on families who are already stretched.

"Passport funding won't provide long-term security and doesn't provide the services needed by more and more families. We're talking about thousands of parents becoming senior citizens and not being able to find the supports their adult children need," said Hahn.

Successive budget cuts have created a crisis in developmental services, with agencies cutting staff and reducing supports for people in care.

"The situation is steadily getting worse," said Veriline Howe, who has been a developmental services worker in Toronto for 20 years. "Because of staffing cuts, we can't provide the tailored support that's needed for each person. Instead of being out in the community, people are coming home from day programs and sitting in front of the TV. Cuts are moving us back toward the institutionalized care that community living agencies were set up to avoid."

CUPE is proud to represent front-line workers in 55 community based developmental service agencies across the province.

Contact Information

  • Craig Saunders
    CUPE Communications