Newsletter
Newsletter

BPS Social Services News: Winter 2018

Publication Date

Friday, March 9, 2018 - 9:45am

For members in Developmental Services, Children’s Aid Societies, Community Agencies, BPS Corrections and Child Treatment.

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Message from the chair

In my role as newly elected chair I want to take this opportunity to recognize outgoing chair, Deborah Gordon, who held the job for 10 years since its beginning. Deb breathes and lives her values. Over the last ten years she has studied legislation, policies, worked on campaigns, made deputations, lobbied, and collaborated on many documents. She has advocated and led, always one step ahead, expecting so much of herself and setting an example for others. Her service to us and the labour movement is invaluable! We salute you!

This year many of the units in the Broader Public Sector (BPS) social services will be bargaining collective agreements in advance of the June 7 provincial election. This is an opportunity to push for increases to funding for social services.  Social services make up a mere 12.3 percent of total program expense in Ontario! If we truly want to reduce inequality and improve health outcomes we need to significantly increase funding as compared to education which is at 20.4 percent and health, at 43.1 percent (public accounts 2016-17: annual report).

Over the last decade social movements and labour groups successfully made inequality and precarious work a priority on the political agenda. Campaigns such as the $15 and Fairness in both the US and Canada have made a difference. The Ontario government recently took action and passed the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act in 2017. This legislation makes some key improvements to the lives of working people, but in our view, it does not go far enough. One significant change in the law is equal pay for equal work, which means that part-time workers will be entitled to the same rates as full-time workers. This change will have a significant impact on many BPS social services workers. Let’s remember that we are part of a movement and we will always be stronger together!

In solidarity, Jane Kaija, Chair (CSDC)

Children’s Aid Societies (sector 4)

Welcome to the new sector executive and bargaining council and a big thank you to everyone for pulling together the bargaining conference in November 2017, great job!

As of January 22, 2018, 24 agencies will have gone live with the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN). Sudbury, Algoma, Hamilton Catholic, Hamilton and Brant will be coming online in April. Outage times are down to two days instead of four. The ministry assured the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) that it will work on reducing the number of outages. There is still no word on whether Indigenous agencies will be joining CPIN following meetings with the Chiefs in November.  The executive is working on setting a follow-up meeting with Aleem Punja (OACAS CPIN Liaison). 

The Worker Safety Phase II recommendations and summary will be coming out this year. A toolkit is also being developed to assist agencies to develop policies to address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and secondary trauma. This should be available sometime in March. Work continues on developing the Occupational Stress Injury tool, which includes PTSD, secondary trauma and resiliency.

CAS executive directors in Northern agencies have hired Barnes Management Consulting to conduct a survey across various agency sectors. They include children's mental health, hospitals, group homes, and police services. It will ensure that children have access to a broad range of services in their communities.  Pilot projects under shared services are testing the concept of establishing a call centre amongst a group of agencies that would direct calls to workers from the closest agency to respond to intake requests.

Agencies submitted their budgets to MCYS, with 41 agencies reporting including four Indigenous agencies. Only three agencies reported a surplus, 21 reported a balance, and 17 are in deficit. In total, agencies reported a troubling shortfall of $45.6 million. The funding formula is clearly not working.

OPSEU and CUPE are in favour of a central bargaining table. The executive leadership at OACAS are not prepared to move on a central table at this time. We will continue to make the case for the necessity for a central table for the sector.

In solidarity, Jane Kaija, Chair

BPS Corrections (sector 7)

The sector has been busy supporting its units in bargaining. Most of the units have collective agreements expiring in 2017-2018. The sector has identified WSIB coverage as a priority for coordinated demands. In April, we met with Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour, to discuss WSIB.  On June 1st, Bill 145, WSIB Coverage for Workers in Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes Act, 2017, was carried and has been referred to the Standing Committee, following second reading. If this bill becomes law prior to the election, we expect that employers in this sector will be required to provide WSIB coverage.

Members of OPSEU Local 216, who work at Arrell Youth Services, are in bargaining and face an employer that is seeking concessions to the benefit plan. The sector executive is actively supporting members to stand together and mobilize against concessions. 

The province began the process of “harmonization” of youth correctional services. We will continue to lobby the province to bring our services directly under the ministry, in consultation with our Ontario Public Service (OPS) counterparts.

The ministry has initiated pilot projects to repurpose open custody facilities to provide transitional housing to youth involved with the law. To date these have been successful. Members retained their work and in some cases saw improvements in pay. In 2017 the divisional executive attended the National NUPGE Corrections Conference in Ottawa and presented key issues related to youth corrections in Ontario. There are many big picture changes on the horizon for youth corrections and we are prepared to support our members every step of the way.

In solidarity, Len Mancini, Chair

Developmental services (sector 2)

The Developmental services sector successfully ran a Pay Equity campaign over the last year. This campaign succeeded in prompting OPSEU developmental services employers to make outstanding payments owed to members, and in some instances significant payouts were made to fellow sisters and brothers.

We continue to work with the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) to stabilize the sector at the Developmental Services Advisory Group table. This year we expect the release of results of a comprehensive compensation study survey, commissioned by the ministry and conducted by consultants. The results will provide us with a better picture of the status of wages, benefits, and job classifications in the sector. This information is essential to continuing the work towards creating greater equity and fairness for developmental services workers.

This is an election year. Since promising to end the crisis in developmental services in 2014, we plan to hold the Liberal government accountable. The instability in our sector continues; retention is a problem, low wages prevail and the sector continues to lose full-time jobs. This year more than 80 percent of our locals/units have expiry dates in March 2018. This is our opportunity to achieve significant gains in bargaining.

​On April 6, the sector will hold a provincial day of action. OPSEU is asking the government to:   

  1. Increase base funding to agencies and commit to expand housing and program services to meet the need for all adults with developmental disabilities.
  2. Set central labour standards to strengthen the workforce and improve stability, training and retention of qualified workers in the field.
  3. Invest $55 million to cover changes to employment standards under Bill 148.
  4. Increase full-time jobs in the sector. Approximately 75 percent of the workforce is classified as part-time.
  5. Regulate the Passport program to protect clients, and ensure a trained, stable workforce that makes a living wage.

Children's Treatment (sector 15)

At the June divisional meeting, your executive was acclaimed for the 2017-2019 term. From all of us, thank you for your support.  We look forward to working with you over the next two years and will continue to advocate for members who provide child and youth services in both community based children's mental health and children's treatment agencies.

Social services funding is a dismal 12.3 percent of program spending. We have a long way to go toward being treated as equal players with the health and education sectors.  As the government continues to promote collaborative partnerships between sectors and ministries, we must assert the importance of a strong investment to social services at bargaining tables and in ministry meetings. The need for stronger investments in social services is now being recognized through a health lens. A recent article in the Medical Association Journal calls for more investments to social services to bring down health costs.

We have been in the thick of system transformation (restructuring) for some time now, navigating uncharted waters. In times of uncertainty, we rely on our collective agreements to bring structure and stability to the process. There have been some tough rounds of bargaining this past year. We had much to share and learn at the November forum as we prepare for the 2018 bargaining year.

Frontline workers facing restructuring are dismayed to observe the number of vacancies and acting positions within MCYS, particularly in the Transformation and Implementation Planning unit where all three director positions are filled by acting directors. Frontline experience with system change within our workplaces strongly suggests we are not yet on solid ground. The MCYS vacancies do not inspire confidence at this time when direction and leadership is needed to guide a sector that's under pressure and chronically underfunded (MCYS org. chart, Nov. 2017) www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/about/orgchart.aspx.

The sector remains firm in its commitment to ensure that members' working conditions promote an environment in which children receive the help and stability that they can count on. Look forward to seeing you at convention!

Children's Mental Health Week (May 7-11)

​Our sector will be coordinating a targeted provincial lobby campaign in the lead up to the June 7 election. Make sure to join the campaign to advocate for dedicated funding for children and youth mental health services in Ontario. 

In solidarity, Deb Gordon, Chair

Community Agencies (sector 5)

The sector 5 divisional executive continues to reach out to units and build a connected leadership within the sector. We established coordinated bargaining themes for the four clusters which were reviewed by members at the November bargaining conference. Highest ranking sector members were encouraged to table language to fight privatization through local bargaining demands.

Cluster groups identified workplace issues that require attention and intervention. Child care centres identified issues including: split shifts, inadequate staffing levels, lack of staff coverage and disparity in wages between full-time and part-time members doing the same work. Shelter workers continue to experience workplace violence and harassment and need support to ensure that health and safety committees are active and accountable. Community agency workers often operate in silos as programs are funded through a variety of channels. Funding for community legal clinic workers continues to pose challenges in the sector.

The divisional executive plans to continue to build a network amongst highest ranking members. A contact list was created at the CSDC Bargaining conference with the intent to organize regular check-ins with highest ranking. In 2017 the executive hosted a workshop for members who work in child care. This was the third sector workshop that was held since 2016.  These workshops have focused on fostering outreach, education, greater mobilization and building sector capacity.

OPSEU successfully organized nine new units since 2017! We welcome new members from:

  • Legal Aid Ontario district legal aid offices including: Central District, Essex Lambton Kent District, and North Toronto District
  • Native Women’s Resource Centre
  • Sistering - A Woman's Place
  • Resolve Counselling Services Canada
  • Newcomer Women's Services Toronto
  • Naomi's Family Resource Centre
  • Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario 

In solidarity, Kareen Marshall, Chair

Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces,  Better Jobs Act, 2017

On November 22, 2017, the government passed a bill that made much-needed improvements to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act. The legislation raises the minimum wage to $14 per hour this year and to $15 per hour in 2019. Labour and civil society groups lobbied for stronger improvements than what is reflected in the Act.

Bargaining units will work with their staff representatives to ensure that collective agreements reflect changes in the legislation. Key improvements to employment standards include:

  • equal pay for equal work for casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers;
  • fairer scheduling rules for shift and ‘on call’ workers including three hours of pay if a shift is cancelled in a 48-hour window;
  • a minimum of three weeks' vacation after five years with the same employer;
  • up to 10 individual days of leave (first five with pay) and up to 15 weeks of leave without the fear of losing their job when a worker or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence;
  • improvements to calculation of public holiday pay;
  • addition of Family Day, provincial statutory holiday;
  • 10 emergency leave days per year, of which two are paid; and
  • unpaid leave to take care of a critically ill family member.

Bill 145, WSIB Coverage for Workers in Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes Act, 2017

John Fraser, Liberal MPP for Ottawa South, tabled a private member’s bill on June 1, the WSIB Coverage for Workers in Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes Act, 2017. If passed, Bill 145 would amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) to provide that an employer who operates a residential care facility or a group home provide WSIB coverage. The Act currently permits a residential care facility or a group home to be exempt from such coverage and to provide their own private insurance if they choose to.

This bill could positively impact OPSEU members in: developmental services, youth justice, children’s treatment, community agencies, community health care professionals and long term care facilities. 

Psychotherapy act limits who practices psychotherapy 

In December 2017 the controlled act of psychotherapy was proclaimed in force. The practice of psychotherapy becomes one of 14 controlled acts defined in the Registered Heath Professionals Act. As of December 31, 2019, performance of the controlled act of psychotherapy is restricted to members who are registered in one of six regulatory colleges:

  • The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
  • The College of Nurses of Ontario
  • The College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
  • The College of Psychologists of Ontario
  • The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario

OPSEU members may be affected by this change if an employer specifies that their duties require providing psychotherapy services. Members will have until Dec. 31, 2019 to register with a regulatory college. Please consult with your staff representative if you are affected by this change in any way. During this period, the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) will provide more clarity on the meaning of the controlled act of psychotherapy and what practices would be exempt.

For more information read the clarifying document   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_bJ4iIX66YVUlQ5SEwxWTBFelU/view and the Health Bulletin http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/news/bulletin/2017/hb_20171221.aspx

New Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 (regulations will be coming out in April)

The government passed the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) in 2017. The legislation broadly:

  • raises the age of protection from 16 to 18;
  • affirms the right of children and youth to have their views heard in decisions regarding the services they receive;
  • seeks to address systemic racism and barriers through the implementation of One Vision One Voice;
  • requires children’s aid societies to publicly post financial audits and expenses;
  • mandates collection of identity-based data, including race-based data, to support better service planning and delivery;
  • restricts the use of mechanical restraints and searches;
  • enables the designation of lead agencies, including child and youth mental health agencies, and authority to prescribe their functions; and
  • introduces unannounced inspections and publishing of certain licensing and compliance information for residential service providers.

To read OPSEUs analysis of the Act, The Child at the Centre, visit the OPSEU website.