BPS Social Services News: Spring 2019
Publication DateThursday, April 4, 2019 - 2:00pm
For members in Developmental Services, Children’s Aid Societies, Community Agencies, BPS Corrections and Child Treatment.
From left to right: Stephen Woods (Sector 2), OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Kareen Marshall (Sector 5), CSDC Chair Jane Kaija (Sector 4), CSDC Vice Chair Erin Smith-Rice (Sector 2), CSDC Secretary Deborah Gordon (Sector 15), and not pictured Jonathan Guider (Sector 7).
Message from the chair
We have our work cut out for us under this new Conservative government. Since taking power, Ford policies and legislation have been divisive, mean-spirited and anti-worker.
Their scheme to cap and privatize autism services is a perfect example. It divides parents, attacks workers, and there are even allegations that the government has threatened service providers that don’t endorse their scheme.
They have made it clear that private interests come before the public interest. “For the people” is code for: privileged and wealthy people.
In September, the government released a report that recommended cuts across services in the Broader Public Sector (BPS), that’s us and our work. The Ernst & Young report didn’t mention a word about the services we deliver, their value, and the growing need for more services.
The government wants to restructure services to cut costs. The new Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services is planning massive restructuring to our sectors. It is looking to push for new types of partnerships that involve: the private sector, community, faith-based and service based organizations. We are going backwards to the days when social services were viewed as charity.
The chairs of the five social services sectors in the BPS will meet soon to strategize a response to the anticipated changes. The chairs will continue to update the highest ranking as we move forward to protect and defend public, not for profit social services in Ontario.
Public services ensure that all citizens are protected from the profit motive. Our services champion values and principles of collective responsibility, universality, and compassion. That’s why we have to stand together and show them that we are the majority, and that we reject their vision. It’s going to take every one of us!
Jane Kaija, Chair, CSDC
Message from OPSEU's President and First Vice-President / Treasurer
As frontline community service workers, you know that Doug Ford’s rookie government is on the wrong track. You see it every day as you struggle to provide quality public services while facing cuts, freezes, and privatizations.
The good news is that you are not the only one who thinks Ford is heading down the wrong path. Fresh public opinion research by Nanos shows that a solid majority of Ontarians – 60 per cent – agree with us that Ford is moving in the wrong direction. The research also shows that Ontarians say the Ford government itself is the biggest problem facing the province.
They are so unpopular, in fact, that as we write this the government has had to back track over their proposed autism changes in response to tremendous community pressure. Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod is on the defensive but has not gone far enough.
Our union is committed to continue to pressure this government to halt this deeply flawed program and we will continue to stand with community partners to achieve this.
What does this mean to us? It means we can confidently demand more investment in our community services because we know the people of Ontario are with us.
Together, we will fight for community services at the bargaining table. And together, we will fight for community services in the streets. Together to win, uniting for a fair Ontario.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer
CSDC "Rock the Boat" Conference
The November bargaining conference of highest ranking across five BPS social services sectors: Developmental Services, Children’s Treatment and Mental Health, Children’s Aid Societies, Community Agencies, and BPS Corrections.
The conference brought together over 100 members and activists to review coordinated demands, share strategies and tactics, and assess the broader political climate.
President Thomas opened the plenary with a commitment to take the Ford government on every step of the way. He committed the union’s resources to support bargaining teams across the province.
Members participated in a session with guest speaker Bill Cole, a mediation and arbitration expert, who talked about bargaining strategies and negotiation skills.
New OPTrust Select jointly sponsored, defined benefit pension plan
Members learned about an exciting new pension plan for members in the BPS. Called OPTrust Select, the plan offers a secure pension at a moderate cost for both employers and employees:
- Members contribute 3 per cent of earnings and employers match the contributions
- An annual pension accrual rate of 0.6 per cent of earnings
- Earning upgrades and cost of living increases are dependent on the Plan’s funded status and annual Board approval.
For more information: speak to your OPSEU Staff Representative.
Ford targets “the people” through his cuts
New legislation and budget cuts attack workers, the environment, women, and children
BILL 47, MAKING ONTARIO OPEN FOR BUSINESS ACT, 2018 (REPEALS BILL 148). PASSED.
- Eliminated equal pay protections for part-time, casual, seasonal, temporary and temporary agency workers
- Eliminated two paid sick days
- Froze the minimum wage at $14 per hour, instead of the previously promised $15 per hour
- Removed provisions making it easier to join a union for some groups
- Clawed-back shift work improvements
- Makes union organizing more difficult for certain groups
BILL 66, RESTORING ONTARIO’S COMPETITIVENESS ACT, 2018. PASSED SECOND READING.
- Exempts companies from rules intended to protect children, drinking water, labour protections, and the environment
- Increases the number of babies that can be cared for by a single adult in an unlicensed home-based daycare from two to three
- Exempts municipalities, hospitals, universities and other big public institutions from rules requiring them to use unionized contractors for infrastructure projects
- Removes crucial and long-standing Ministry of Labour oversight that protects workers from being unilaterally forced to work more than 48 hours a week.
- Removes crucial Ministry of Labour oversight that protects workers from overtime wage theft by employers that use “overtime averaging.”
BUDGET CUTS AND REGULATIONS
- Eliminated the office of the Provincial Child Advocate, Environmental Commissioner, and the French-language Services Commissioner
- Cut $22.7 million to low income child care subsidies slated for 2019
- Withdrew a three per cent increase and instead applied a 1.5 per cent increase to OW and ODSP
- Withheld a 33 per cent increase for rape-crisis centres and may scrap it altogether;
- Cut $335 million slated for mental health services
- Eliminated rent control
- Cut free post-secondary tuition for students with families making less than $50,000 a year
Government social services restructuring: cutting to lower expectations
What we are up against:
- Attack on universality. The government is considering introducing means testing to programs, asking some to pay while others don’t. When everyone benefits from a service regardless of income, it’s easier to defend that service because everyone has a stake in it; this is why Medicare is still around.
- Amalgamations and multi-service agencies. Services may be moving out of communities and may become more difficult to access. Workers are concerned about the potential for de-skilling and amalgamating work functions.
- Cuts to services. Data collection will increasingly be used to track core and or direct services. Other services could be eliminated, downloaded or cut.
- Downloading. The government wants agencies to partner with the private sector, community, and or faith groups. This could further erode wages, retention and quality services. A move to reintroduce the charity model to social services is a step backwards to a time when the state did not have an adequate social safety net.
- For-profit growth and competitive bidding. The Ford government supports the expansion of private sector provision of services. For-profit agencies are accountable to shareholders first, and clients second.
- For-profit agencies undercut wages and compromise quality to satisfy shareholder profit.
The chairs and divisional executives of all five sectors in the BPS will meet in February to discuss and coordinate a social services response.
OPSEU is also in the process of developing a large central campaign that will be supported regionally by the executive board members.
Local development, education, engagement of allies and community campaigning will put pressure on politicians, both locally and provincially, to respond to adverse government actions on our members, communities and all workers.
Stay connected and join the struggle for social justice in your community!
Three NDP Bills that support the provision of social services
Bill 64, Noah and Gregory's Law (Transition to Adult Developmental Services and Supports), 2018, Gretzky, Lisa, (NDP) November 28, 2018, First Reading
The Bill amends the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008. The Act is amended to include a definition of children’s developmental services and to require the Minister to take certain steps to assist persons receiving a children’s developmental service to transition to services and supports provided under the Act
Bill 63, Right to Timely Mental Health and Addiction Care for Children and Youth Act, 2018, Karpoche, Bhutila, (NDP) November 27, 2018, First Reading
The Act requires the Minister to ensure that a person who is less than 26 years old, resides in Ontario and has been deemed to require a mental health or addiction service receives access to the required mental health or addiction service within 30 days of being deemed to require the service.
Bill 24, Ministry of Community and Social Services Amendment Act (Social Assistance Research Commission), 2018, Miller, Paul, (NDP) First Reading, Carried
The Bill amends the Ministry of Community and Social Services Act to establish the Social Assistance Research Commission. The Commission recommends social assistance rates, and makes other recommendations about social assistance policy. The Commission consists of people with expertise relevant to the Commission’s work.
Welcome new OPSEU units to the BPS Social Services!
Sector 2 Developmental Services - Local 267 - Community Living Cambridge
Sector 5 Community Services - Local 525 - Legal Aid Ontario - Peel York District
Sector 5 Community Services - Local 5118 - Income Security Advocacy Centre
Sector 5 Community Services - Local 5118 - Canadian Environmental Law Association
Sector 5 Community Services - Local 5118 - Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
Sector 5 Community Services - Local 540 - Native Women's Resource Centre