Your work makes a difference every day!
A message to all members in OPSEU Sector 2 from President Warren (Smokey) Thomas for Developmental Services Worker Appreciation Day, June 18, 2016
OPSEU celebrates and recognizes your dedication and the important work you do to improve the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Your work makes a difference every day.
I am proud of our union’s record of standing up for the dignity of vulnerable people in our communities. We have worked hard to draw attention to the crisis in developmental services, and in 2007 and 2014, we successfully pressured the Liberal government to increase funding. Unfortunately, this government’s commitment to fund a comprehensive not-for-profit system for people with developmental disabilities is simply not there yet.
The crisis continues. Adults with developmental disabilities still cannot find dignified housing. They continue to live in long-term care homes, psychiatric units, and homeless shelters; meanwhile, thousands more languish on waiting lists. We need the government to do two things: first, build integrated residential housing; and second, fund the programs that will make that housing into real homes for clients.
In addition, the government must put money into a province-wide human resources plan that values the work you do. Developmental services professionals deserve better wages and working conditions. That’s a fact.
Despite this government’s lip service to the gender wage gap, the majority female workforce in developmental services works part-time, with poor benefits and no pensions. The Pay Equity Act is supposed to address the gender wage gap, yet the government refuses to fund its pay equity obligations to publicly-funded employers.
OPSEU represents more than 180 workplaces with proxy pay equity plans covering thousands of members. For these workers, pay equity has now ground to a halt. Many employers have not delivered on their pay equity obligations – required by law – for several years. This needs to change. Enforcing pay equity legislation is a priority for our union. With your support and activism, we will make headway.
Developmental services workers in this province do wonderful, important work. On behalf of all OPSEU members, thank you for that work.
June 18 is your day. Take a bow!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union