Fifty developmental services bargaining units head into negotiations in 2014 with coordinated priorities, support, and strength.
Toronto (28 Mar. 2014) — This is a very important year for the developmental services sector workers in Ontario. Fifty out of sixty-seven developmental services collective agreements expire on March 31, 2014 for members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). With thousands of members in bargaining at the same time, the outlook is positive for significant progress.
Thousands of OSPEU/NUPGE members head into bargaining
Members and bargaining committees have been working for months to prepare for coordinated bargaining with agreed-upon priorities and to put the funding and service crisis front and centre for the public and for elected politicians. In the lead up to negotiations, OPSEU/NUPGE members participated in a successful and well-attended lobby day at Queen’s Park, highlighting the issues of concern for, not only those working in the sector, but for those who rely on developmental services across the province.
Following the Queen's Park Lobby, members met at a union bargaining conference to establish priorities.
On January 14, OPSEU/NUPGE developmental services workers delivered pastry turnovers to Members of Provincial Parliament to bring attention to the high turnover rates in the sector because of low wages, reduce hours and temporary jobs. Turnover is a problem for workers, employers, and families receiving care. Workers find it almost impossible to make ends meet and have to look for work elsewhere. It is costly for employers to frequently hire and train new employees. Equally important is the fact that continuity of care for the people who rely on the services declines.
Notice to bargain served on all 50 employers
On January 15, all 50 employers were served notice to bargain.
“It is time for a serious commitment to properly funding developmental services,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Ontario families are stressed and pushed to the limit waiting for access to services. Lack of adequate funding means that there are not enough staff to meet the needs of people waiting for services.”
There are 24,000 Ontarians with developmental disabilities on the wait-list for services. Of those, 12,000 are waiting for residential opportunities. Meanwhile, some people with developmental disabilities are receiving the wrong kind of care by being placed in the wrong kind of facilities. Many reside in long-term care facilities, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and even in jails.
Ontario has the resources, can afford to care for most vulnerable
“Families cannot and should not wait 10 years and more to receive the care they need for their loved ones. It breaks my heart to see families struggling to get access to the specialized care their loved ones require for a decent quality of life. There are too many people who are growing old and worrying about who will care for their family members when they are gone,” said Patti Markland, OPSEU Developmental Services Sector Chair.
In a recent update to members, Markland reinforced how this round of bargaining will be successful, "Mobilizing from the ground up is key to our success. We need to have every member in every unit engaged and talking with each other. United and strong, we will show employers that we are all fighting for decent contracts. And we will show Ontario’s Liberal government that we are fighting for quality public services for people who rely on them."
"There is more money in Ontario than there has ever been. We can afford to care. For our members in developmental services and for the people we support and their families," Markland wrote.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE