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Bargaining impasse at Central West Specialized Developmental Services

TORONTO – Services for hard to serve individuals with developmental disabilities in the Central West Region of Ontario could be disrupted as bargaining at Central West Specialized Developmental Services has reached an impasse.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 249 filed for conciliation Monday. The local’s 306 members have rejected the latest contract offer by an 86 per cent margin and given their bargaining team a 93 per cent strike mandate.

They provide a wide range of services in Dufferin, Halton, Peel, Waterloo and Wellington regions.

Central West Specialized Developmental Services, a not-for-profit charitable organization, supports more than 70 individuals full time, with respite services for up to 10 more. The agency operates seven group homes, with an eighth set to open in November.

Also part of the bargaining unit are staff at Halton Support Services, Dual Diagnosis Service and Passport, who deal with thousands of clients in the community.

Local 249 president Sue Walker said her members want more than just a wage increase. “Our members have not had an increase in benefits or vacation entitlement for many years. They want gains in those areas similar to what others working in developmental services have achieved.”

She pointed out that despite a substantial increase in provincial funding for developmental services, the employer is demanding major concessions, involving benefits for part timers and sick leave.

 “I hope that the appointment of a conciliation officer will allow talks to progress to a fair settlement,” Walker said. “None of us want a strike, but we aren’t prepared to put up with unjust treatment either.”