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Developmental service agencies confirm shocking shortage of services

(TORONTO) – A province-wide survey of developmental service agencies confirms the crisis in services and reiterates the urgent need for the Ontario Government to provide the funds needed to help people with developmental disabilities.

“The agencies said they have cut staff hours, shut down programs, and, quite incredibly, have turned to student volunteers and fundraising,” said Ontario Public Service Employees President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“More than 10,000 OPSEU members are developmental services workers and they have seen first-hand the effects of too little funding year after year,” he said,

The 2014 report of the OASIS Operating Pressures survey documents those effects, including: high staff turnover and lack of continuity of care, greater focus on financial issues and less on the people who require care and support, dietary concerns and fewer activities. OASIS (Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs) represents 177 agencies. The report is on the agenda for today's meeting in Toronto of executive directors and senior managers.

Only one of three developmental services workers in Ontario is full-time. Low pay and unstable casual and part-time work means employers can’t attract and retain skilled workers.

"Many of the people we support don't know who's coming through their door next," said OPSEU Developmental Services Chair Patti Markland. "And far too many of them are inactive and losing quality of life because agencies don't have the staff to work with them and get them out into their communities."

Agencies that responded to the survey account for more than half of Ontario’s budget for services and supports for 66,000 people with autism, Down Syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual disabilities in Ontario. More than half of them are on waiting lists for services, and the wait can last for years.

An all-party legislative committee earlier this year documented the extent and depth of the crisis. OPSEU and now OASIS are clear:  The government must provide stable, increased, and long-term funding to see that people get the services they need.

Before the Ontario election in June, the minority Liberal government promised $810 million. Now with a majority, the Liberals have yet to turn that money over to the agencies.


For more information:

Sheila Keenan, OPSEU Campaigns,
416.802.1251, skeenan@opseu.org

Patti Markland, Chair, OPSEU Developmental Services, 613.848.6016, patti.markland@gmail.com