Unions and employers are discussing promised $200 million
Government facilitated talks around funds for developmental services
Unions and employers in developmental services (DS) will soon meet again to discuss the Ontario Liberal government’s promise of $200 million for frontline workers, some of the lowest-paid in Ontario.
That money is part of the $810 million announced for the DS sector in the 2014 budget. It has yet to roll out to agencies and workers.
At an Oct. 22 meeting, Ministry of Community of Social Services (MCSS) explained the breakdown of the $200 million to representatives from groups with a voice in the allocation and use of DS funding.
MCSS representatives said the money is for compensation for frontline workers, but couldn’t define what they mean by that. The funds break down to $40 million fiscal in 2014, $80 million fiscal in 2015-16, and $80 million annualized in 2016-17.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed in the way the Wynne government has worked the numbers to make it look as though they’re doing more than they are,” said OPSEU Developmental Services Chair Patti Markland. “Most of their funding is one-time, not long-term, and will not stabilize services and jobs in the sector.”
Participants in the Oct. 22 meeting convened by MCSS will meet again on Nov. 12 and 13: MCSS, Ministry of Labour (MOL), Treasury Board, OPSEU, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and OASIS, Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs.
The parties agreed to put monetary talks on hold at the local level until Nov. 15, pending the outcome of those two days of discussion.
OPSEU represents some 11,000 developmental service workers. Collective agreements for most of them expired this year. Several locals have strong mandates from members to take strike action if necessary.
Key issues include wages and the excessive use of part-time and casual labour. Two-thirds of developmental services workers in Ontario are part-time or casual, about double the rate within the overall working population.
“We desperately need funds to stabilize conditions for workers and the people we support and their families,” said Markland. “We still have to work hard and work together to make sure those funds come through.
“OPSEU members are prepared to do what we need to do to bring earnings and service levels up to where they should be across the developmental services sector.”
Strike vote results and more at opseu.org
Members in seven locals have voted to take strike action if necessary to get a fair and decent collective agreement.
More: click on “Dignity is Not Optional” button at opseu.org
Employers confirm high staff turnover is a problem
Developmental services workers, the people they support, and even employers are feeling the pressure caused by low pay and unstable work.
Wages, contracting out, and job security are key issues in bargaining this year.
It is widely known that conditions for workers make it difficult for employers to attract and retain skilled developmental service workers, a problem identified once again in a new report.
OASIS, the province-wide group for agencies that support individuals with special needs, recently issued its third annual report on pressures that make it difficult for agencies to operate.
“Still a concern for the sector is how to sell itself to potential employees. If the goal of the DS sector is to become a ‘career of choice’, the use of contract resources vs a full-time job, wages more or less frozen or increasing at less than the rate of inflation, fewer employment opportunities within the sector and ever increasing workloads are going to make that difficult to achieve,” said the 2014 report of agency responses to an OASIS survey.
High staff turnover affects quality, stability, and continuity of service for people with intellectual disabilities.
Key coordinated bargaining demands
- Conversion of part-time hours to full-time jobs.
- Same job, same pay. Same rate of pay for people doing the same job, no matter where in Ontario they work.
- Guarantee that WSIB is the benefit of choice for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Have you signed your card?
The Liberal government promised, but has not delivered, $200 million for frontline workers.
OPSEU Developmental Services produced postcards with a brief and to-thepoint message for Premier Kathleen Wynne to release the promised funds and “end the crisis”.
Your local president or other union representative should have received cards for distribution. Please be sure to sign yours.
Your 2014 Coordinated Bargaining Team
Patti Markland Chair
Local 448 – Community Living Prince Edward
Bargaining Rep at Large
Local 358 – Peterborough Community Living
Team member (2A)
Local 357 – Community Living Huronia
Team member (2B)
Local 738 – Avenue II Community Program Services
Team member (2C)
Local 5102 – Surex Community Services
Your 2014 Bargaining Bulletin in authorized for distribution by:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Patti Markland, Chair, Developmental Services Coordinated Bargaining Team