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For-profit mail sorting delays harm ODSP clients: OPSEU/SEFPO

TORONTO – The contracting-out of mail sorting in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to a for-profit company has created chaos for ODSP clients and staff, resulting in delayed benefits and unwarranted benefit suspensions and holds.

In 2018, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) hired a for-profit vendor named Nimble to sort incoming postal mail, email and faxes. This work was previously done by administrative support clerks employed by the ministry.

“Instead of listening to OPSEU/SEFPO and hiring more administrative support clerks to handle the overwhelming volume of incoming correspondence, they contracted it out to Nimble,” said Susan Fournier, the OPSEU/SEFPO Chair of the Ministry Employee Relations Committee. “Now our mail is constantly delayed for a week or more. We just heard recently about a 26-day delay.”

When correspondence from clients doesn’t reach ODSP on time, benefits can be delayed or suspended. When a client’s file is suspended, they aren’t eligible for any of their disability benefits, including medication, diabetic supplies, incontinence supplies, and wheelchair repairs.

“It’s a terrible, anxious situation for clients, all of whom have disabilities, and it isn’t their fault,” said Fournier. “And it creates a lot of extra work and stress for caseworkers, correcting the errors.”

As a result of the delays, at the end of each month ODSP caseworkers and administrative support clerks are left scrambling to try and get monthly ODSP entitlements generated on time.

When Nimble was first introduced, all incoming correspondence went directly to Nimble to open, scan and send to local ODSP offices. But Nimble was quickly unable to keep up with the volume.

Now, a cumbersome three-step process has been introduced as a patchwork fix:

  1. Local office administrative support clerks scan incoming mail into Nimble scanners
  2. Nimble sorts the mail into the right folders offsite
  3. Nimble returns the documents to the local offices, days or weeks later.

“It’s a ridiculous system – the mail gets sorted twice!” said Fournier. “If they just hired enough administrative support clerks to sort the mail once, as it arrives, and direct it to the right place, the delays would be over,” Fournier concluded. “It’s just one more example of how privatization creates cracks in the system and leaves the vulnerable behind.”

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For more information:
Michelle Langlois, OPSEU/SEFPO Communications Officer, 647-225-6597, mlanglois@opseu.org