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June 21: Let’s celebrate developmental services!

OPSEU Developmental Services Appreciation Day, June 21, 2017

President Warren (Smokey) Thomas released this message today to all members of OPSEU Sector 2 to mark Developmental Services Appreciation Day.

Dear friends:

June 21, 2017 is Developmental Services Appreciation Day. It’s a day to salute the work of the 10,000 OPSEU members across the province who work in developmental services. Your work enables children and adults with developmental disabilities to live meaningful and dignified lives. Thank you.

As I shared with you last year, your sector needs much more support than it is getting from our provincial government. Rather than invest in creating real homes with quality supports for adults with developmental disabilities, Ontario’s Liberal government has chosen instead to put more money directly into the hands of individuals and families. This so-called “direct funding” model has created a wild west in developmental services that puts everyone at risk – workers and clients alike.

That’s why your union is backing your sector in calling for direct funding to be strongly regulated. The province must bargain central standards of work to improve recruitment and retention; it must set standards around training and quality care so that a job in developmental services can be a well-paid, lifelong career.

I know your sector will make this happen. In 2017, your sector took the lead to push for pay equity in the Broader Public Service, together with allies in the Equal Pay Coalition. OPSEU challenged employers who were shirking their pay equity obligations, and we saw significant movement in our favour when we took legal action to enforce our members’ rights.

The fight for equal pay for work of equal value is a long one because it’s fundamentally about changing society’s view about what counts as valuable work in the caring professions. It’s about furthering the understanding that pay equity is a human right, and a legal right in Ontario. I am proud of our union’s effort on this front. Together, we will continue to push the government to respect pay equity.

There are many challenges ahead and I know that you are ready to take these on at your bargaining tables and in your communities.

On behalf of all OPSEU members, thank you for your commitment to being a voice for those who are too often marginalized.  We celebrate your work and salute all that you do!

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union